Monday, December 06, 2021 | Jumada al-ula 1, 1443 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

T20 Cup puts Oman on world cricket map

Picturesque Al Amerat Stadium which is nestled in the Al Hajar Mountains is the cynosure of cricket fans around the world for hosting the T20 Challenge.


Think of a country, which was considered as a minnow when compared to cricket-playing giants like Australia, England or India, with limited history of cricket as host to global showpiece like the current world cup.


October 17, 2021 will go down in history not only for the Omani cricket team’s win over Papua New Guinea that brought laurels to the country but also for becoming part of a global event. It is something to cheer as the Sultanate is picking up pieces after cyclone Shaheen ravaged the two northern governorates.


Oman is in the thick of things both as a host country and a participating team doing well in the home conditions.


If the win was a watershed moment for the sport in the country, the T20 World Cup has facilitated the Sultanate to highlight its best kept tourism potential to the world.


The T20 World Cup, which is being described as the biggest sporting event in the Middle East till the Fifa World Cup to be played in Qatar, is one of the largest televised events after international soccer tournaments and the Olympics.


With ICC bosses, players and commentators waxing eloquent over the Al Amerat pitch, Oman holds potential in the region to host coveted neutral international matches.


BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly has rightly compared the scenic Al Amerat Cricket stadium to English countryside when he said, “It is good to get Oman in the frame of world cricket with the hosting of the T20 World Cup. It will help a lot of young players take an interest in the game. We know it will be a world class event in this part of the world.”


If the words of BCCI Secretary Jay Shah are to be believed, “Co-hosting the World Cup will put Oman Cricket on the global stage. They are also playing the qualifiers and it will be an icing on the cake if they make it to the Super 12s”.


In terms of global television audiences, it is believed to reach over three billion viewers, which will unquestionably boost Oman’s grand prospects of hosting more international games in the future. And the Al Amerat Stadium, with its beautiful surroundings should be a pleasing sight for billions of viewers watching worldwide.


At the same time, the Sultanate has much to offer to the visitors with its diverse attractions. By hosting the World Cup, Oman’s name will reach people who are yet to know about the country’s hidden treasures including its natural beauty and culture.


No doubt, cricket in Oman has received enough encouragement from the authorities. The Oman Cricket Association has been making all-out efforts to develop interest in the game by setting up grass-root training opportunities, especially in schools.


Oman are playing in their second T20 World Cup having shocked Ireland in 2016, the last time the tournament was held before the planned 2020 edition in Australia fell victim to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Ranked 18 in the world, the Oman team achieved the status to play one-day internationals in 2019. It has to negotiate the qualifying round comprising Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and Scotland to get into the Super 12 which is being played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.


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