MUSCAT: Record number of women’s teams, increased use of technology and stronger infrastructure will be the highlights of the new season as Oman Cricket (OC) takes steps to strengthen domestic league and expedite the game’s development in the country.
Determined to improve the playing conditions as well as the existing infrastructure to a level befitting its Associate nation status, OC is working hard to ensure each new season is better than the previous one.
A state-of-the-art Oman Cricket Academy, highest-ever number of women’s teams, introduction of match referees for Premier and A Division games and provision of free digital scorers by OC are among a host of heartening new steps aimed at raising the country’s profile as an upcoming cricket nation as well as preparing the national players for international assignments.
The Sultanate is one of International Cricket Council’s 92 Associate members besides being one of only six countries with T20 international status. The ICC has 12 full members with Test and ODI status.
Oman will be participating in ICC’s WCL Division Two early next year and then in qualifiers for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and OC wants its team to be better prepared for these all-important competitions.
“We want our players to get accustomed to the playing conditions, higher levels of discipline and WCL rules. All these steps and developments are aimed at achieving exactly that,” said Duleep Mendis, Head Coach and Chief Development Officer (CDO) of Oman Cricket.
“Introduction of match referees for Premier and A Division games is meant to enforce discipline at the highest level of cricket in Oman,” he added. A total of eleven people participated in the match referee course conducted here by David Levens, ICC Umpire Coach, last month.
“David was very pleased that OC has started this concept (of match referees) in Oman which is aimed at strengthening the domestic league,” said Mendis.
In a huge boost to the game’s infrastructure in the Sultanate, a full-fledged cricket academy with international standard facilities is likely to open in Al Amerat in December.
“Oman Cricket is very keen to provide the best possible training and learning facilities to players. This academy, with a number of astro-turf pitches, video recording facilities and a state-of-the-art gymnasium, will fulfill that gap,” explained the CDO.
The seven-lane indoor facility will have two lanes dedicated to fast bowlers, another two specifically for spinners and the remaining three for normal batting practice.
Oman Cricket has also provided excellent outdoor nets facilities set up by Gabba International, Australia, which is also credited with developing outdoor nets facility for ICC Academy at Dubai Sports City in UAE.
“Promoting women’s cricket is among the prime ICC target areas and we are extremely pleased to have made significant progress this year. Women’s league has seen a record 8 teams registered for the new season. Since we had only five teams last season, this is a healthy increase,” he added.
Mindful of the need to maintain domestic league data accurately and efficiently, OC has decided to provide its own scorers to all teams free of cost.
Equipped with the latest tablets and a suitable software, these digital scorers will ensure all scores and results are updated instantly on CricHq site linked with Oman Cricket website (www.omancricket.org) through a Live Scores window,” stated Iqbal Ariwala, Administration Manager, Oman Cricket.
In order to bring its domestic league in line with international practices, OC has decided to apply new MCC laws in all the divisions this season.