Haitham opens Oman Cricket Academy to kickstart 48th National Day celebrations

MUSCAT: The month-long celebrations of Oman’s 48th National Day started with the inauguration of the state-of-the-art Oman Cricket Academy (OCA) by HH Sayyid Haitham bin Tareq al Said, Minister of Heritage and Culture, who was the chief guest of the star-studded ceremony that also saw the presence of Sayyid Khalid bin Hilal al Busaidy, Minister of Diwan of Royal Court, the Guest of Honour, and Shaikh Saad bin Mohammed al Saadi, Minister of Sports Affairs.
Prominent among international figures invited to grace the occasion was Dave Richardson, ICC Chief Executive Officer.
The ceremony was also attended by a number of ministers, high-ranking government officials, foreign diplomats, leading figures from the private sector, top management of Oman Cricket and members of cricket fraternity in the Sultanate.
Addressing the gathering, Pankaj Khimji, Senior Board Member, Oman Cricket, spoke about the latest cricket developments which was followed by a video presentation showcasing Oman’s achievements in world cricket.
Thanking His Majesty Sultan Qaboos for his continued support to the game, Pankaj said Oman has come a long way in the last 15 years and currently ranks 16th in 104 ICC members. He expressed Oman Cricket’s endeavour to make Oman national team one of the best cricket teams in the world.
Pankaj informed the gathering that Oman Cricket aimed at taking the game to the grassroots level and schools were the best place to achieve that goal.
“Our ultimate goal is to introduce cricket in Omani schools and we have signed an MoU with Ministry of Education to include cricket in the schools’ curriculum in Oman,” he announced.
David Richards, ICC CEO said cricket’s aim is to inspire and empower communities to attract more people to the game.
Praising Oman for making headlines at international events, Richards said: “Oman Cricket has made progress in leaps and bounds and ICC aims to support OC in taking the game forward and strengthening its infrastructure,” he added.
Accompanied by the guest of honour, the sports minister, ICC CEO, the VVIP guests and Kanak Khimji, Oman Cricket Chairman, HH Sayyid Haitham unveiled the OCA plaque amid thunderous applause, leaving the iconic cricket facility officially open and available for some exciting games and events to happen in the times to come.
The guests were then taken around the academy building for a view of the facilities and services on offer where they also met the men’s and women’s national teams undergoing training and net practice. The guests were also taken to the balcony for a wonderful view of the grounds followed by a presentation of special mementos.
Situated on the edges of the two floodlit cricket grounds in Amerat’s picturesque setting, OCA offers world class facilities for training, net practice and coaching. The academy building also has a gym, meeting rooms, restaurant, prayer room, players’ dressing rooms and VIP sitting area. The indoor net practice arena, constructed by Gabba Nets of Australia, consists of two fast pitches, two spin pitches and three normal pitches with lights and air-conditioning and dedicated dressing room facilities. With Oman attracting tourists from all parts of the world every year, OCA will go a long way in promoting Muscat as the ultimate cricket training hub in the region.
The Oman Cricket turf ground 1 is equipped with flood lights, digital scoreboard, as many as ten turf pitches and high quality grass which is watered by OCA’s own reverse osmosis plant.
The OC ground 2 offers similar facilities in addition to 5 astro-turf and 5 turf pitches with floodlights for fielding drills. The nets facility is constructed by Gabba Nets of Australia.
OCA is also equipped to offer teams and players a number of net bowlers and bowling machines to help them prepare for different playing conditions.