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CRICKET AND SPORTS GROUND PHUKET

 
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The new home ground for the Phuket Cricket Group
Home ground for Island Furniture Senior League games
Home ground for Outrigger Hotels Twenty/Twenty League
Official venue for the Thai national youth cricket games June 2012
The AGC is approved and supported by:
The sports Authority of Phuket & Thailand
The Cricket Association of Thailand
The Asian Cricket Council

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  ACG is bowled over by plaudits:  


Sport enjoys more than its fair share of ceremony from presentations to event openings and their eventual finales.

Every one of these occasions first heralds, then celebrates the victorious and also commiserates with those that will have to try again, in order to achieve that title, trophy or winning time.

One sporting occasion that inspires hope and limitless possibilities, undemanding of competitive exertion, is the cutting of a ribbon, announcing a new ground is ready for play.

As the tape falls to the ground and applause resonates among the gathered dignitaries and spectators, it’s easy to imagine your child striding onto that ground with teammates, as similar applause sounds encouragement for their sporting dreams.

With the simple cutting of a ribbon last Sunday, a new sports ground opened on Phuket, and with that ceremonial gesture came a world of possibilities for local youngsters, a “field of dreams”, to borrow a popular film title.

Since the announcement last year that Alan Cooke MBE, former British Honorary Consul to Phuket, had donated a plot of land to be used as a cricket facility, the tireless efforts of a dedicated few have seen a piece of barren wasteland transformed so dramatically that even Constable would be forgiven for thinking it was an English landscape, if it weren’t for the surrounding banana plants and coconut trees.

The Alan Cooke Ground, or as its benefactor is adamant to impress, the ACG, is not as new as the official opening date suggests. To many within the Phuket Cricket Group (PCG), the grounds are very familiar, having now hosted nine Island Furniture League matches, four touring teams and several friendly games.

Blood and beer have been spilled as well as many a catch dropped, while many other droppings have been collected. Sixes and fours are accumulating as are half-centuries, but none has reached a ton. International players and teams from abroad have graced the wicket, watched by the games’ enthusiasts from the ever-developing clubhouse and its magnificent upper viewing area, which also commands a beautiful vista across the lakes of Baan Liphon in Thalang.

Preparations for the opening were complex, but managed beautifully by Siriporn, Alan’s partner. Government officials and VIPs from Asian cricket attended and four teams were organized to compete over Saturday and Sunday in exhibition cricket matches as entertainment for the crowds. Phuket’s youth development rugby and cricket teams, the Lomas and the Leopards respectively, gave outstanding displays of tenacity, mobility, coordination and skill as the adults waited for the guests of honor.

Speeches written and with an attractive translator in waiting, practicing pronunciation of unusual names, the proceedings began once the dignitaries had been welcomed then seated.

First to the Laguna lectern was the collected Mr Cooke. Immediately he struck to the heart of the ground’s importance, which he said will aid development of Thai youth cricket in association with the Cricket Authority of Thailand (CAT) and the PCG.

“I am confident that our facility [ACG] will encourage more local youngsters to participate in sports through which they can establish lifelong friendships with people from around the world who share the same passion for their sport,” said Mr Cooke.

He further acknowledged the contributions of David Roberts and Keith Brooks followed by the announcement that Property Care Services have agreed to provide floodlights for the ACG which will allow for later training hours.

After offering thanks to all in attendance, Mr Cooke suggested there was much more work ahead, but that the goal was achievable.

“I believe that with such support from our friends that we may continue to grow from strength to strength, putting Phuket firmly on the map as an international sporting destination,” he concluded.

Chairman of the PCG, Pat Cotter, next remarked on Alan and Siriporn’s contribution to Phuket rugby and cricket over the years and that these sports can now grow further with the establishment of the ACG.

“With this great facility generously provided by Alan and Siriporn, and the continued support of our local Thai coaching staff and the CAT, we are confident more people within the Phuket community will be able to develop their skills, which in turn will open up a world of opportunities to them,” said Mr Cotter.

Mr Mohideen Kader, Chief Executive of the CAT, presented highlights of his organization’s achievements from membership into the International Cricket Council in 2005 to Thailand’s women’s team achieving third place at the Asian Cricket Council (ACC)’s Women’s T20 championship in 2011 and how the ACG will help further the sport’s development.

“We are sure that with great facilities such as this, cricket in Thailand will continue to achieve great things and we will continue to support the development of cricket throughout Thailand.

“Congratulations to Alan and everyone involved in cricket here in Phuket for their wonderful efforts in promoting and developing the game here,” said Mr Kader.




CEO of the ACC, Syed Ashfraful Huq, stated that a major objective of the Asian cricket’s governing body is to see the continued development of the sport throughout the region. With 22 nations as part of the ACC, the popularity of new forms of cricket and the intense media coverage, Syed expects increased participation in the game throughout Asia, including Thailand.

“By establishing such great facilities such as the one Alan and his team have put together here, we are confident that our great sport of cricket will become one of the most popular here in Asia by helping us to develop at the grassroots level,” Syed said.

“This is the foundation and the platform for growing and developing our game. Congratulations to Alan for his vision and remarkable achievement in bringing to Phuket its first custom-built cricket ground. Finally a big thank you to all here in Phuket who are making our [ACC] dream become a reality,” he added.

Phuket Vice Governor Dr Sommai Prijasilpa, detailed Phuket’s growing popularity as a sports destination, with particular reference to the Laguna Phuket Triathlon and marathon, and having world-class facilities to host such prestigious competitions.

“By attracting such sporting events, the people of Phuket benefit via increased economic activity, but also equally importantly by being able to showcase their wonderful island and all it has to offer.

“By also participating in international sports, our people have an opportunity to act as ambassadors for Thailand as well as make friends from other countries,” she said.

“Congratulations to Alan and Siriporn on their generosity in providing such a wonderful facility and to the PCG, CAT and the ACC in promoting cricket here in Phuket, and through this, Phuket to the world.”

Thailand’s Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Dr Seksan Narkwong, recalled his department’s first dealings with Alan back in 2003 when their combined efforts reduced marine import tax from 47 per cent down to zero, which he said “provided the catalyst for the development for marine tourism” in Thailand. Remarking that tourism was Phuket’s most important industry, Dr Seksan underscored the influence of the ACG to future tourism prospects.

“With tourism being the number one industry in Phuket, this facility will go a long way to further developing sports tourism for Phuket. It will also serve to benefit the youth in the province, by living a healthy lifestyle and fostering relationships with the Phuket and international community through their participation in sports,” he said.

“I strongly believe that with the continued support of the PCG, CAT, the ACC and the local Phuket community, this facility will go on to hold many successful events and assist Phuket in developing a reputation for sports tourism,” Dr Seksan added.

The ACG is a community project and ultimately made possible with most of the crucial services provided “free of charge”. Legal, architectural, project management, secretarial, quantity surveyors, structural and electric engineering experts have all given of their time and resources to bring this project to fruition. “Without this input the ACG would not have been possible,” said Mr Cooke.

Following the all important ribbon cutting, a CAT selection consisting of Thailand’s finest youth players took to the field for their encounter against an ACC selection that included former Bangladesh captain Aminul Islam Bulbul, who was the first to score a test century for his country and several local Phuket players.

Organizers, officials, guests and players basked in the idyllic setting and enjoyed wonderful fare provided by Outrigger to the sound of leather on willow and watched a very entertaining game of cricket.

This writer has played at a cricket ground that the legendary WG Grace called “magnificent” for its aesthetics. But I’m sure the good doctor would have stroked his beard and yielded that the ACG was also worthy of such a commendation.

With official duties now complete, it’s time for the ACG committee to begin preparations for two more important events. In February, the world-famous Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) will leave the home of cricket at Lords in England, to visit Phuket’s new home of cricket, the ACG. Shortly after in June, the ground will host the Thailand National Youth Games cricket competition with hopes of a gold medal for the Phuket team.

For more cricket information visit phuketcricketgroup.com.

The Phuket Gazette is the Official Local Media Partner of the Alan Cooke Ground.

Phuket Gazette

© ACG Phuket Cricket and Sports Club • Supported by The Courtyard, Island Furniture and Alan Cooke MBE