Cricket success is a continuation of Oman’s remarkable progress under HM, says Pankaj

Pankaj Khimji New

 

Sultanate’s elevation to ICC WCL

Division Two is Oman Cricket’s

National Day gift to the nation

 

Shahzad Raza

MUSCAT: Oman’s cricket successes are a continuation of the country’s remarkable progress under His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said and the Sultanate’s promotion to World Cricket League Division Two after winning the WCL Division Three with a resounding 10-wicket victory against Uganda on Sunday is a National Day gift to the country from a highly charged and elated Oman National Cricket Team, said Pankaj Khimji, senior Board member, Oman Cricket and the team mentor for the tournament.

Oman remained remarkably undefeated in the six-nation International Cricket Council (ICC) WCL Division Two championship held in Amerat, beating teams like USA, Singapore, Kenya, Uganda and Denmark in an amazing run of victories.

“Four years ago we beat Namibia in Ireland to qualify for the ICC World T20 Qualifiers in India and dedicated that success to our nation on the eve of our Renaissance Day on July 23. Now we have defeated all the five teams to reach WCL Division Two and get closer to qualifying for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers too. Once again we dedicate this success to our nation on the eve of Oman’s 48th National Day,” said an overjoyed Khimji.

Oman will be playing in WCL 2 in Namibia in April 2019 and the top four teams will reach the qualifying round of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.

When asked to sum up a long journey to WCL Division Two after relegation to WCL Division Five and then the climb back up the ladder, Pankaj said: “We dedicated a lot of our time and energy to our team’s growth and progress and today we feel exonerated. I am now far more convinced of our success, of our status because I feel today we deserve it. We have been playing consistently good cricket over the last three to four years and I believe our boys deserve the honour.”

He said the team’s success was phenomenal and reflected the nation’s progress.

“The fact that cricket, sports and the youth in our nation have been supported at every level and in every context is so highly encouraging. We feel so indebted to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said for donating us the Oman Cricket Academy building and giving us his continued support all these years. We are grateful to His Highness Sayyid Haitham, who was present the morning we played against USA, for always being there. We cannot thank the minister of sports enough for always making sure we are able to achieve whatever we want to achieve. What more support do we want? I can’t think of a better way to do it,” stressed Pankaj.

Replying to a question, he said cricket success was a continuation of the country’s growth and progress since His Majesty the Sultan took over back in 1970.

“I think it is a great reflection on what is happening in the country as well. The country has developed so much in the last four decades. Out of the developing countries no country has achieved a developing index as Oman has. From three schools a few decades back to over 1500 schools now, from just two so-called hospitals to 300 plus hospitals and clinics in Oman today, from just 13 kilometres of paved roads to thousands and thousands of kilometres of most fantastic national expressways and highways, four international airports, three phenomenal seaports, cruise terminals coming up. Have we ever had it so good? Does any other country have it so good? I have travelled the world. Would I ever want to go and stay anywhere else where I feel more at home than Oman? No, I can’t think of a better place. My country means a lot to me and I think this achievement of Oman Cricket is an absolute reflection of what Oman has achieved and it’s a small contribution of Oman Cricket towards Oman’s great story of progress on the world stage,” remarked an emotionally charged Pankaj.

Thanking Oman Cricket Board members for their time and support, Pankaj said he enjoyed working with a set of dedicated professionals who loved the game.

“I am extremely grateful to my Board members and we are absolutely passionately inclined towards nothing but sponsoring and supporting this game. Anything we get we put it back into the game. It’s property for cricket it’s not about us at any given point of time. As long as our minds are very clear that it’s all about sport, we are happy,” he added.

With Oman joining a select group of high-performance international teams in WCL 2, bigger things lie in store for the country and Oman Cricket feels all the effort and resources pooled in to make it possible have been justified.

“What we have done for cricket, whether it is developing top class infrastructure or team development or setting the ethics and the ethos to move forward is now beginning to pay off. This is Oman coming into its own. This is a well-deserved international recognition for Oman and I believe we are there to stay now,” said the senior Board member.

“We are still an amateur cricket nation but I am proud of our boys who have been up against better placed teams and still performing creditably well. They are now going to play in Namibia against highly experienced teams and will have to play out of their skin to succeed there,” he added.

Pankaj, who is known as Oman’s voice at ICC, said Oman Cricket wanted to make sure Oman would become a model country for cricket development in any part of the world.