ICC CEO hopes Oman hosts ICC events in 2023-2031 period

Muscat: International Cricket Council (ICC) CEO Manu Sawhney stated it would be wonderful if Oman would be able to host a couple of ICC events between 2023 and 2031.

The ICC’s top honcho was in the Sultanate for talks with Sports Minister Shaikh Saad bin Mohammad al Saadi and top Oman Cricket officials regarding ICC events in the 2023-2031 period.

In an exclusive interview with Oman Observer, Sawhney spoke in detail about the purpose of his visit and made his observations about Oman’s cricketing growth.

“This is my first visit to Muscat and Oman. It’s an absolute privilege and honour to be here. I had the opportunity to meet with the Sports Minister this morning. We shared with him the various events the ICC would be hosting from 2023-2031. We are looking at 24 ICC events which include men’s events, women’s events, men’s U-19 and women’s U-19 events,’’ he added.

Sawhney, who was the former managing director of ESPN Star Sports, revealed that he had constructive discussions with the Sports Minister about the multiplier effects of hosting ICC events.

“We also shared with him the massive impact ICC events have on the countries that host the tournaments, the social impact, the cultural impact and the economic impact. The Sports Minister was very receptive and said he will see what it can do for Oman as a country and for Oman cricket. He said that Oman Cricket and the Sports Ministry will be working together on a strategy as to what are the events that they would like to bid for and would like to host in Oman. So, it was a very positive feedback that I got,’’ Sawhney added.

Sawhney felt Oman has the facilities and it would be nice if they get to host a couple of ICC events.

“As a team considering what you (Oman) have achieved, it would be a wonderful thing for Oman to host a couple of ICC events between 2023-2031. And we have to see how we can expand these facilities and make that happen. It’s a very positive visit. We are very grateful to the government and Oman Cricket for the hospitality,’’ he added.

Sawhney stated that he would love to see Oman host a multi-nation ICC tournament in the future.

“I would love that to happen and I wouldn’t be surprised if Oman Cricket along with the government of Oman puts in a very compelling bid of the various ICC events that happen between 2023 and 2031,’’ he added.

The ICC CEO was impressed with the facilities of Oman Cricket after seeing around the premises.

“I also had the opportunity to look at the facilities here and I think you have some amazing facilities. The indoor facilities, the lounge, the number of pitches here. All in all, Oman has the great opportunity given how close you are to India in terms of a time difference perspective and a flight duration perspective,’’ he pointed out.

Sawhney was effusive in his praise of the cricketing infrastructure created by Oman Cricket.

“The cricketing infrastructure I have seen here is fantastic. You know for the size which is there to be able to have two pitches there, two grounds there. You know for an indoor facility and an outdoor facility for training and an Astro Turf as well as the natural playing field is excellent. I’m being given to understand that various clubs and teams are coming here to play warm up games and practice before they start their tours. It is a huge opportunity to leverage on that and build this even further which would be good for not just international cricket but it would be good for Oman Cricket.

Sawhney did not rule out the possibility of top cricketing nations visiting Oman for practice tours or matches.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they come here for practice before going to either Europe or Asia. You have the facilities and now the question is what kind of discussions take place, more and more people talk about this. I wouldn’t be surprised if things happen,’’ he added.

Oman is slowly and surely climbing up the cricketing ladder and Sawhney feels it is ultimately performance that will place them among cricket’s elite.

“It depends on how much and what quality of cricket is played. From our perspective we want to keep it absolutely based on performance. This is not about any region, it is about how a country comes out of the structure. With facilities like that and with a board which is extremely focused on cricket and has no other intentions you have a wonderful platform to do that,’’ Sawhney said.