Oman captain Hemin Desai lifting the 2004 Middle East Cup

With Oman just one step away from the 2007 World Cup, preparations are in full swing for their enhanced recognition at the global level.

Oman’s cricketers already have one of the world’s most charismatic coaches in former Indian star Sandip Patil, the support of a financially sound Board and now the increased official backing of their government.

Oman will be taking part in the ICC Trophy in Ireland in July where, if they finish in the top 5 of 12 competitors, they can book their flights to the Caribbean and the chance to take on at least two Test playing countries in their group. Before that, as runners up in the 2004 ACC Trophy, Oman will take part in next year’s Asia Cup and this small nation (pop. 2.75 million, with 50% below the age of 16) will be really batting high in the world rankings. Not bad for a country that until ten years ago had but a handful of cricketers.

“Their performance in the ACC Trophy was a real eye-opener and in opening-batsman/opening bowler Hemin Desai they have a genuine talent”, says K.K. Haridas ACC Events Executive. Since then they also won a thrilling ACC Middle East Cup in Kuwait. If success begets success, then Oman are definitely on the way to even greater things.

The National Squad training at The Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex

Following a meeting with Oman’s Minister of Sports Affairs, Ali bin Masoud Al Sunaidi, in Muscat the ACC Chief Executive Syed Ashraful Huq said, “Imagine Oman playing in the Asia Cup and millions of people watching all around the world. It is indeed a dream opportunity for Oman. The ACC will definitely help Oman promote the game and with government backing ensured, I don’t see why Oman can’t be in the top bracket in international cricket.”

As for creating the environment for continued success, “the ACC’s main priority is to see more and more Omani children take up cricket in the near future”, said Ashraful Huq “and this could be possible only when Oman starts to do well in international cricket and the children start watching the national team on television and try to copy their heroes.”

Iqbal Sikander, the ACC Development Officer who accompanied the Chief Executive on his tour of the Gulf, emphasized the value of schools’ participation. “The ACC will provide all technical support to see that the schools have good cricket coaches and facilities to promote the game. We will also arrange external camps in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan or Bangladesh, so that the children gain good exposure. We would also like girls to take up the game as now both men’s and women’s cricket has come under one spectrum.”

Filed August 4th, 2010