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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Darjeeling's historic pride as they prepare for Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes

Will be the 31st time Darjeeling have played event, and they have already confirmed their participation for 2019, when the club be celebrating their 50th anniversary.

The Darjeeling Cricket Club, in action in November, are taking part in the Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes this week. Navin Khianey for The National
The Darjeeling Cricket Club, in action in November, are taking part in the Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes this week. Navin Khianey for The National

Darjeeling, the UAE’s oldest amateur cricket club, are hoping their experience will count as they aim for finals day at the Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes this week.

The Dubai club are one of just three teams to have played in every edition of the tournament in Thailand, which starts on Sunday.

The six-a-side event bills itself as “the world’s biggest amateur international six-a-side cricket tournament”. It will involve 36 teams from around the world, including places beyond cricket’s mainstream such as China and Vietnam. As well as Darjeeling, the Arabian Gulf will be further represented by Awali Taverners, from Bahrain.

It will be the 31st time Darjeeling have played in Chiang Mai, and they have already confirmed their participation for 2019, when the club be celebrating their 50th anniversary.

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“As a region that doesn’t really have a history for cricket, for one club to have survived for 50 years, I think is phenomenal,” Stuart Matthewson, who will be representing Darjeeling in Chiang Mai for the 12th time, said.

The personnel in the Darjeeling tour party themselves also qualify for veteran status. As such, they have asked to be entered into the “Gentleman’s” division of the event, for social standard cricket, rather than the more competitive “Player’s” division. Matthewson says Darjeeling are aiming to make it to finals day on Saturday.

“People have changed job, people have moved, one of our regulars has a wedding to attend in the UK,” Matthewson said.

“Difficulties getting time away from work and other commitments have left us in this position, but our target is still to make finals day.

“A lot of it is social, but it does get fairly competitive. There are a couple of Australian teams who are young and fit players.

“When we won the [second-tier] Bromley Shield in 2014, we were the underdogs. We were playing a young, fit side, and we batted first and didn’t set a very high total. When they were chasing we ran out three players, because they were inexperienced and felt the pressure on the scoreboard.”