Thinley Namgay  

A 17-member squad, including three officials, landed in Malaysia yesterday to participate in the first Quadrangular Series 2022, approved by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

It is their first international appearance in almost four years. In the last three years, the international competitions were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

After the ICC World T20 Asia Qualifiers in Malaysia in 2018, the senior national men’s cricket team has not participated in international competitions.

Bhutan, Thailand, the Maldives and host Malaysia will compete in the tournament begins on July 2 and ends on 13.

Each team will play twice against another team and the top two teams will play in the final. 

All matches will be counted for the ICC T20 international ranking.

Team Bhutan will be led by longstanding captain Jigme Singye and vice-captain Thinley Jamtsho. Bhutan will face Malaysia in the opening game on July 2.

The last time the men’s team played an international game was in the 2019 South Asian Games in Nepal in the under-23 category. Bhutan lost all the four games played that time against Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Bhutan Cricket’s Chief Executive Officer, Damber S Gurung said the players have undergone three months of training in Thimphu and Gelephu. “Getting them back in shape was challenging after being hit by the pandemic. Yes, they are still short of match practices.”

“However, reforming the team was our main objective, and definitely, their performances in the tournament will help us to assess the team’s stance,” Damber S Gurung said.

Quadrangular Series 2022 will be also the first international tournament for coach Trishane Nonis from Sri Lanka after he is appointed the national cricket coach of Bhutan in 2021.

In April, Bhutan Cricket called 22 potential national team players from across the country for a training camp in Thimphu with a focus on improving the country’s T20I rankings.

The players were shortlisted based on their performances in domestic and international competitions among other criteria.

The preliminary squad of the selected cricketers were trained at Pelkhil School’s cricket ground. Of the 22 players, 14 were selected by a selection committee comprising the national team head coach, two members of the cricket board, the captain and the vice-captain.