Hua Hin Invitational Cricket Sixes – How It All Began by Tom Karnasuta
Cricket was not my preferred sport. So when I was dragged into a Thailand Cricket League (TCL) meeting in 1993 to make up the numbers, it was nothing more than setting the scene for a “Getting Pissed” night. How wrong I was to stumble into a TCL in total disarray - full of conflicts, infighting, lobbyists and all the rest!
I was proposed into the Presidency’s nomination (with the promise of never having to do any work), elected in a land-slide and had the rest of supporting cast named. Hooray, the President of TCL! I was encouraged by my close friend Kader who suggested I should do something really different (i.e. for cricket in Thailand) and apparently a “cricket ground” was something at the top of the list with fixtures often cancelled (AT THE LAST MINUTE) because the Sports Club or Polo Ground were needed for soccer, baseball, or other members’ activities. And so this became my mission, to find a piece of land and to build a cricket ground!
The Ground, the Sponsor and the Hua Hin Sixes …..
While playing a 25 Overs League match at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club with my friend ML Chayotid, my Presidency was mentioned and immediately his entrepreneurship (being a Managing Director of a leading Securities firm) came into play. What is your mission statement? Huhhhhh? I had to make up something good and it goes like this, “We need cricket grounds, new grounds because matches are being cancelled due to other members having priority access.”
The following Tuesday I was lunching with his close friend, Dusit International Group Owner and Chairman, Khun Chanin, at the Dusit in the top floor Michelin Star restaurant D’Sens. Within half an hour or so, the Dusit Resort and Polo Club (name of Dusit Thani Hua Hin at the time) ground was offered, I was to call the Resident Manager John Gill, go down to Hua Hin and discuss a cricket ground and what to do with it. In addition, ML Chayotid had arranged a sponsorship of Baht 800,000 from Singha beer. The Hua Hin Cricket Invitational Sixes was born!
My man John Gill
The start of a long friendship with John began in 1994 when I arrived at the sleepy fishing village of Hua Hin, and it was really sleepy then. There was no official “bar” in town and the Dusit’s Polo Bar was the best thing (and still is today in many ways)
Tom, Funky and John Gill in 2005 when money was no object and trophies were carved from ice!
Over the next 12-18 months, John and I had the swamp area in front of the hotel converted into a cricket ground. John had convinced the Dusit Thani Hua Hin to put up a sizeable sum of cash while I’d put all of Singha’s sponsorship, first into building the ground and, subsequently, into organizing the very first tournament.
In two decades the tournament has grown to become a key fixture in the Thailand cricket calendar as “cricketers” and their families and friends came to Hua Hin for a week of fun and friendship. The tournament launched Colin Miller onto the international stage and Jonathon Trott played here on his way to England to begin his career. It has showcased many other stars and interesting characters including Barry Richards, Allan Lamb, Mick Lewis, David Currie, Gary Chatfield, Johnno, Lou, and Kiwi.