Almanac Cricket – Saudi Arabia v Kuwait: Bowling change at the water buffalo end


It may not be the Ashes, or the Gavaskar-Border trophy, but try telling players from the seven countries contesting the ICC World Cricket League Asia qualifier in Thailand that the tournament counts for nothing.


And though it may not be Lords, or The ‘G, the setting at the Prem Tinsulanonda International School is much more unique.


Water buffalo, rice paddy fields, farm and garden workers, locals on pushbikes pedalling here, there and everywhere and birds squawking in trees, are some of the nearby accompaniments to the game.


Today, it’s a 50 over contest between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, supposedly two of the heavyweights in the group, which also comprises the host country, Bhutan, Bahrain, China and Qatar.


The 10-day tournament is being played at the David Buck Cricket Centre at Prem school, about 30km from Chiang Mai, and at the Chiang Mai Gymkhana centre and the Royal Chiang Mai Golf Club.


Buck, who passed away of cancer last year, was a former Hampshire county player, who had a dream of opening a cricket centre at the school where he and his wife, Linda, were in charge of the boarding students.


The school ground is as good as any first-grade complex in Australia, and this tournament, being ICC sanctioned, has to be run according “to the rules.” Umpires use walkie-talkies to the reserve umpire and the scorers. After the first three overs, the reserve umpire notices the openers have coloured logos on the sides of their willow, and he tells the rest of the team not to follow suit. 


There may only be a handful of spectators, but the players not only provide the entertainment on the track; but off it. It is as noisy and as quirky as the old Bay 13 at the G.


The Kuwait players cannot control their delight as they rejoice when a Saudi Arabian makes a mess of a straight-forward catch. The smiles last a ball. After running two, the batsman goes for another smash and the ‘keeper makes anything but a mess of the skied chance.


A day earlier, the Bhutan-China game was over seemingly just after it started, the Chinese succumbing quickly. This one seems set to go the distance, Kuwait off to a grounded start. However, hiccups hit them in the middle of the innings, and poles fall over quickly.


In the 40th-something over, Kuwait are dismissed for 130. Saudi Arabia knock 40 from the chase for the loss of just one wicket before the lunch break (play starts at 9.30am) and it appears an open and shut case. But this is cricket, a funny game, and who knows what’s to come after a sumptious lunch of international tucker?




  1. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – a clash of traditional rivals, Sweens.
    From having worked in Saudi in the late 90s, virtually all of the players would’ve been South Asia expats working in the Middle East.

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