Muscat: Oman having qualified for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup qualifiers means it has earned the right to hold some matches from the tournament, now that the country is being considered a venue for the upcoming event.
According to Pankaj Khimji, the chairman of the Oman Cricket Association, the country earned qualification for the World Cup because the efforts of all those involved were channelled in the right direction.
With both Oman and the neighbouring United Arab Emirates being considered joint venues for the tournament, he is confident the same teamwork will go into getting everything ready for the tournament to take place.
“Mentally, we are more than ready,” said Khimji, who also serves as Vice President of the Asian Cricket Council. “Physically, yes, we have things to do…we have a little more than four months when the World Cup starts, but it will be less than that when you look at when the teams and officials will start to come in.
“If Oman has played so well in the last few years, then Oman deserves a shot at the World Cup, as well as becoming a venue for the same,” he explained. “Oman deserves it more than anyone else in the region. We are the only associate country from Asia to have qualified for this World Cup, so we are very proud of that.”
Although the upcoming edition of the World Cup was set to be held in Australia last year, it was postponed to this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was then offered to India, but with the pandemic situation still very serious, the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), which governs cricket in that country, has chosen to search for an alternate venue.
The United Arab Emirates, which held the recent Indian Premier League, was suggested, and Oman came into the picture when the International Cricket Council required an additional fourth venue for matches to be held.
“I believe, however, that Oman is best suited to host it,” Khimji explained. “I believe this is a great moment and an amazing opportunity for Oman, so we shall definitely make the best pitch for it. However, at this moment in time, the BCCI and the ICC will take the final call, and say the venue will shift from India to the UAE and Oman, although the hosts will still remain the BCCI.
“That is probably likely to happen towards the end of the month,” he went on to say. “Right now, we are running through the to-do list, in terms of how well we stack up towards achieving their expectations, in case they choose to move to Oman.”
The OCA’s cricket facilities in Amerat have already received accreditation to host Test, ODIs and Twenty20 matches: efforts Pankaj credits to the long-term view of the organisation in developing cricket in the country, and making it a better competitor at tournaments.
He made it a point to add that these efforts would not have been possible without the foundations that were laid due to the support of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik, and the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimour, who have always been extremely generous and dedicated towards developing the sport in the country.
“Yes, it is a big task, a good task, but it is definitely not a Herculean task,” said Pankaj Khimji. “We are well-suited, and we have the capacity and capability of doing this. If no one else has it, then we definitely have the ability to do so.”