Weekly Local Biography

  Puttivat (Parn) Poshyanonda

With all the excitement of the Chiang Mai Sixes cricket coming back for the 18th tour, it was probably a good time to interview a man who uses the handle “parn_cricket” in his email address, and is instrumental in bringing forward the next generation of Thai cricketers. That man is Puttivat (Parn) Poshyanonda, who represents the Asian Cricket Council in the Chiangmai School’s Cricket Alliance. His dream is to see a Thai cricket team play at Lords. “I’d really like to see that,” said Parn simply.

Parn was born in Bangkok, the eldest son in a well-to-do family, but freely admitted that he was not the type to devote himself to study. Quite the reverse! “I wasn’t a good boy, so I was sent to a prep school in England,” said Parn with a grin. So St. Andrew’s School in Eastbourne and then Cheltenham College became home for the young, rather naughty, Thai boy, whose passion up till that time was collecting. “I collected anything as a boy, match boxes, cigarette cards, coins, notes and even old letters and cheques.”

However, even if he did not apply himself too well to the books, he did excel on the sports field. He became the football captain at St. Andrew’s and played cricket as well. “You couldn’t miss it. You had to play.” At Cheltenham, his prowess continued, playing hockey, rugby and cricket. “I played as wicket keeper. I was good at it and also athletics.” He certainly was, setting records in the 100 and 200 yard sprints, high jump, long jump and triple jump. He was presented with his sporting blazer ‘pocket’ by His Majesty the King on one trip to the UK in 1968; however, he played this down saying, “It was probably because our house was behind the embassy!” Again he freely admitted to his lack of application to the books, saying “I was better at sports than studies. You also get a lot more interest from the girls,” showing there was more than just sport on the young man’s mind.

Before he could sit for his A levels, his father died in Bangkok, and this heralded the end of his schooling, as he had to return to Thailand where he entered the workforce as a junior with Bangkok Bank. However, there must have been a significant attraction in England (and I am not sure that it was just cricket) and he returned to study banking in London. He stayed there for two years before his mother insisted he return to Bangkok, as being the eldest son, he was expected to take some responsibilities towards the family insurance business.

Back in Bangkok, he continued with the Bangkok Bank and eventually sold off the insurance company, and it was after this that Parn showed the flair for business that perhaps he had inherited from his father. Liking cooking, and having had to cook for himself in England, he opened a restaurant in Bangkok. He also had a feeling for teakwood and opened a teakwood carving business in Chiang Mai with the objective to export these artefacts. He was also still playing cricket and remembers, without fondness, losing his teeth at the Chiengmai Gymkhana Club grounds in 1982. He was playing in his usual role as wicketkeeper and there was no sight screen. “You can’t see the ball,” said Parn. But the ball saw him, taking out his teeth and requiring 32 stitches to be inserted! Who said cricket isn’t a dangerous sport?

After three years with his own restaurant, but still very much involved with sports, he was invited to join the Royal Bangkok Sports Club as their food and beverage manager combined with being personnel manager. Being this close to his beloved sports kept Parn in the position for the next six years, but eventually his need to do something for himself exerted itself and he came to Chiang Mai in 1992.

At this time, entrepreneurship was in full swing and Parn opened a pub, a restaurant, and bought apartments and land. For the next five years business looked rosy, as it did for almost everyone in the ‘tiger economy’ but in 1997 the house of cards collapsed with the Asian economic crash, and Parn was just one of the victims. “Everything just stopped,” said Parn, reflecting on what must have been a particularly trying time for him. He kept the land and that was about it, and is still rebuilding his shattered business portfolio.

However, cricket was still there as his back-stop. He was asked to join the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) in Kuala Lumpur, and accepted as he wanted to do something for Thailand’s cricket future. Part of that is to promote the hard ball game as the natural follow on from the soft ball game of Sawasdee Cricket which commenced in 2000.

Parn really believes in cricket as a pastime. “You make a lot of friends (in cricket) as opposed to football and rugger where you make a lot of enemies. Cricket uses your mind and teamwork and teaches you to be a cool person (jai yen).”

Parn also informed me that cricket was first played in Thailand, in Chiang Mai, 105 years ago. It is now time, after more than one century, for Thai batsmen to start scoring their centuries too. “We have seven Chiang Mai boys in the Thailand team, but I hope that one day the whole team from Chiang Mai could represent Thailand,” said the former wicket keeper who is now building what he says is the first ‘real’ cricket ground in Thailand, to be finished this year. “It is difficult because no-one is supporting us other than the ACC and the farang community in Chiang Mai,” he said rather ruefully.

Perhaps after this Parn might just get to see his dream realized of a Thailand team playing at Lords. His sacrifice of all his teeth and 32 stitches will have been worth it!