MUSCAT, AUG 28 – ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy continued to connect with the people of Oman for the second successive day before the ICC delegation left the country with loads of fond memories of its culture, history, heritage and hospitality. Having made an appearance at the city’s historical places of high value, like the 16th century Al Jalali and Al Mirani Forts on the first day, the ICC Trophy was brought on Tuesday to the office of His Highness Sayyid Haitham bin Tareq al Said, Minister of Heritage and Culture and Patron-in-Chief of Oman Cricket. The minister was briefed by an International Cricket Council official on the goals and importance of the unique Trophy Tour before it embarked on the last leg of its busy trip: Oman Avenues Mall.
Cricket’s most precious award became a centre of attention the moment it arrived in the mall. Shopping took a backseat for a while as people flocked the arena the Trophy was placed in. The next couple of hours saw a frenzied desire to be photographed with the iconic World Cup Trophy overshadow all else, setting up a bond with the local population it had come to establish.
The fact that cricket is widely followed in Oman was evident from the attention it had attracted throughout its two-day tour, of which the highlight was the grand reception it received at Al Amerat ground on Tuesday evening.
The ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy arrived on the ground, amid thunderous applause, carried by the horsewomen of the Royal Oman Police in their traditional Omani attire.
Oman players who participated in the World Cup Qualifier then presented the ICC Trophy to Shaikh Saad bin Mohammed Al Mardhouf al Saadi, Minister of Sports Affairs.
“This is the crowning glory for Oman’s Cricket journey that spans well over four decades,” said a proud Pankaj Khimji, commenting on the occasion. Addressing the occasion, Pankaj said: “Oman Cricket is privileged to be hosting the trophy as this comes as a big boost to the concerted efforts to popularise the game in the country.”
He said the excellent cricket infrastructure over here was a tribute to the exemplary leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said who has been a great support for sports in the Sultanate. Pankaj thanked the Ministry of Sports, Royal Navy of Oman, Royal Oman Police, Muscat Municipality and water and power authorities for helping Oman Cricket grow from strength to strength in the last few decades.
“I want to specially thank the Wali of Amerat for lending Oman Cricket wonderful support in building world class facilities in Amerat,” he added.
The large crowd on the ground was treated to a scintillating performance by Royal Navy of Oman’s cultural troupe.