Hopefully my achievement can inspire more Thai girls, says Nattakan Chantham

Nattakan Chantham in action. © ICC

It’s been over six months since the T20 World Cup ended in Australia earlier this year. Australia were crowned champions, but one match – precisely, one innings – that will be etched in everyone’s memory is Nattakan Chantham’s brilliant half-century against Pakistan in the last group encounter.

The opener struck a majestic 50-ball 56 – Thailand’s first in a World Cup – and also helped them post their highest T20I score of 150 for 3 surpassing their previous best of 133 for 8 against the Netherlands in 2019. Such was the beauty of her batting, it even made former West Indies legend Ian Bishop exclaim that she was his ‘new favourite player’.

The 24-year-old added another leaf to her and the country’s hat when she was drafted in the Trailblazers squad for the third edition of the Women’s T20 Challenge to become the first Thai player to feature in the tournament. The three-team event will be played in UAE from November 4 to 9 in Sharjah.

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“I am still quite shocked and excited to be selected for such a high-profile tournament.  We haven’t had a chance to play any competitive cricket since the T20 World Cup so I’m really excited about this opportunity,” Chantham said.

The right-hander looked in sublime touch throughout the tournament with her solid technique and strong off-side game hitting 10 boundaries in that innings. “Hopefully I can put in a solid performance if and when the opportunity is handed to me by the team and help the team with my abilities as much as I can,” she added.

Apart from Chantham, the squad also includes hard-hitting Deandra Dottin from West Indies, world no.1 bowler in T20Is Sophie Ecclestone from England and Bangladesh T20I skipper Salma Khatun among the overseas stars. Indian pace spearhead Jhulan Goswami is also in the mix.

“I’m really excited to be playing and training alongside the best players in the world and I’m sure it will be a great experience for me,” she stated. Under the guidance of head coach Harshal Pathak, Thailand have been training since May post the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“I have been back in training since May.  I have a set fitness schedule and I have been working mostly on improving and fine-tuning my skills. It’s been raining quite a bit in Thailand so it’s been a good chance to really focus on certain skills and areas of my game indoors,” added Chantham, nicknamed ‘Jeans’.

Certainly, this is a huge step in Thailand’s cricket. They came into the World Cup with a 17-match winning streak and with Chantham taking the flight to Dubai on October 21, it will inspire a lot of Thai youngsters back home.

“For myself being selected for the IPL (Women’s T20 Challenge) is a major milestone for me as a professional cricketer.  Hopefully, my achievement can inspire more Thai girls and even more girls in our region,” she concluded.