Oman Cricket's ‘soft’ approach to promote game
March 4, 2018 | 4:29 PM
by Sports Reporter
Oman Cricket Chief Development Officer Duleep Mendis, second right, along with board members and sponsors, pictured during the launch of Stassen Tea Lounge Challenge Trophy MRI T10 tournament on Sunday. Photo - SHABIN E/Times of Oman

Muscat: In line with the ICC’s plans for popularising cricket across the globe, Oman Cricket has announced the launch a ‘softball’ cricket tournament.

The inaugural Oman Cricket Stassen Tea Lounge Challenge Trophy MRI T10 tournament, scheduled to take place from April 6 to 28, is mainly aimed at involving all cricket lovers and initiating them into competitive mode in an ‘official event’.

Speaking at the tournament launch ceremony on Sunday, Oman Cricket’s Chief Development Officer Duleep Mendis said: “The idea of organising a softball cricket tournament was initiated by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as part of the governing body’s plans to popularise cricket across the world.”

“I am glad the Oman Cricket has agreed to do the same in Oman and conduct this softball T10 tournament,” Duleep Mendis, who is also the head coach of the Sultanate’s national squad, said.

“There are many teams playing softball cricket during the weekends and holidays... in the parks, on the streets and where ever they find the place to play. But now Oman Cricket MRI T20 Tournament will provide these players and teams an opportunity to play in an official event,” the Sri Lankan great added.

Speaking in the presence of Oman Cricket Treasurer Kiran Asher, board member Dad Mohammed Al Balushi, Administrative Officer Iqbal Ariwala and Women’s Cricket Co-ordinator Vaishali Jesrani, he said: “I would like to thank Al Falaj Hotel for coming forward to sponsor our new tournament.”

“Al Falaj Hotel have been supporting Oman Cricket for many years. And I am sure their support to our T10 tournament will go a long way in achieving the goal of creating interest and further promoting cricket in Oman.”

“We are hoping to have make this an annual affair. And I am sure Al Falaj Hotel will be there with us in the future as well. We are also hoping they will support our national team too in the future,” he added.

In his remarks, Srinith De Silva, CEO of Aitken Spence Resorts, who own Al Falaj Hotel, said: “We have been part of Oman Cricket over the years and sponsoring of T10 event is in continuation of that long relationship. In future too, we will be happy to be involved with the Oman Cricket and their activities.”

Great for women’s cricket

Oman Cricket Treasurer Kiran Asher said: “The basic idea is to bring all the cricket lovers together and involve them in a competitive environment. The tournament will also provide them an opportunity to see and experience the Oman Cricket’s beautiful facilities.”

With the T10 event also including a separate women’s competition, Women’s Cricket Co-ordinator Vaishali Jesrani is quite delighted with the Oman Cricket’s new initiative.

“It’s a great step by Oman Cricket. When we talk about women’s cricket, there are always some kind of reservations and restrictions when initiating the girls into the hardball cricket.”

“But this softball competition will open a new door for both the players and the administrators. Now it will be possible to initiate more girls into cricket through softball competition,” she added.

Tournament format

Later speaking about the tournament format, Duleep Mendis said: “As of now we are planning a 64-team competition for both men and women. The teams will be divided into eight groups of eight teams each. The group toppers will then advance to Super 8 stage.

“All matches from Super 8 stage, including semifinals and final, will be played under floodlights in Al Amerat.”

Interested teams may register their entries with payment of OMR 50 before 7.30 p.m. on March 13.

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