MUSCAT: Mindful of the need to prepare the available talent for national and international assignments, Oman Cricket took another giant step towards providing its players the world class infrastructure it has planned to put in place in the coming few months.
A ‘Letter of Friendship’ was signed by Oman Cricket (OC) and Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the owner of Lord’s cricket ground and the guardian of the Laws of the Game, highlighting the common goal to strengthen the infrastructure, promote the game of cricket and nurture the youngsters at each other’s facilities at a special ceremony at the Al Amerat Oman Cricket ground on Saturday.
The highlight of the event was the presence of HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, as the Guest of Honour, and His Highness Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, Patron-in-Chief of Oman Cricket. Oman’s national teams, both men and women’s, National Youth Development Team, OC Board members and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.
Kanak Khimji, Chairman of Oman Cricket, and John Stephenson, MCC’s Secretary of Cricket, exchanged the signed ‘Letters of Friendship’.
The Duke of York was introduced to Oman teams led by Oman’s Head Coach Duleep Mendis before Pankaj Khimji, member OC Board, briefed him on the game’s development in the country in recent years and the giant strides Oman has been making at international level.
Visibly moved by the beautiful Al Amerat Oman Cricket grounds, their picturesque setting and Oman Cricket’s growth and future plans about developing the game at the grassroots level, Prince Andrew remarked, “I am very impressed, very impressed indeed.”
Commenting on the association between MCC and Oman Cricket, Stephenson said, “This beautiful ground reflects the ambition and vision of Oman Cricket. Having played beautiful cricket at international level, Oman has come a long way in the last three years. It has shown incredible energy, incredible ambition and it is part of our role at MCC to help cricket-playing nations develop in every way we can.”
Explaining the fruits of the association with MCC, Pankaj said, “Oman needs expert hands charting its future course of action. Setting up the Club House and Oman Cricket Academy is one step towards realizing that goal. But building an infrastructure does not mean that you have accomplished that goal. You need the soft skills, the ability to make the best use of the facility and the technical know-how to groom the youngster for tomorrow. Who better than MCC to achieve all this? The Spirit of Cricket programme they are running over there is so intense, so articulated that it suits us best. So we approached MCC to assist us and it readily agreed, looking at the kind of development that we are doing, looking at the way Oman has been playing and growing as a cricket playing country in the last three years.”
Replying to a question, Pankaj said over the next few years MCC is going to send their young cricketers to be part of our academy. It will also help us set up all the modules, the administration and the processes so that we are able to impart the best coaching programmes to our young cricketers. We have also agreed to send our senior players to go across and benefit from the MCC programmes. Similarly, young cricketers from MCC will come here and play during our season. The best part of the deal is that their off season is our playing season and our off season is their playing season. So we can reciprocate to each other’s advantage. A couple of young cricketers from MCC have already shown the willingness to come here and that will be done as soon as the Club House is ready.”
He said Oman Cricket was also looking at coaching staff from their School of Cricket visiting the Sultanate and helping OC design its curriculum for the academy.
Oman Cricket Academy is likely to be up and running in the next few months and will go a long way in developing Oman as a leading cricket playing nation in the region.
“Now that Oman is a serious talking point in the cricket corridors of ICC and international circuit, we are doing our best to set up quality infrastructure to show the world that we are serious about our cricket and want to take it forward. We would be really glad to see our Omani boys coming from the neighborhood and playing in our academy,” Pankaj added.
Madhu Jesrani, Secretary Oman Cricket, described OC’s association with MCC a major step in the realization of their goal to lay a solid foundation for the future.