Muscat: Oman will complete its preparations to hold the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup within the next three months, after it was confirmed as a joint venue partner for the tournament.
Set to be held from October 17 to November 14, 2021, the event will be held in Oman and the neighbouring United Arab Emirates, after the International Cricket Council, cricket’s governing body, decided to switch venues from India, owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
For Oman and the UAE to be awarded venue rights is an historic occasion: they both become the first associate cricket-playing nations to hold a World Cup. The hard work to ensure that tournament is a success, however, begins now, according to Pankaj Khimji, the chairman of the Oman Cricket Association (OCA).
“This is definitely a great day for us…it is truly a watershed moment for cricket in Oman,” he told the Times of Oman. “The official message has come from the ICC and we are so happy that we can now bring such a high-profile event here.”
“I think it is true that this is a history making occasion for both Oman and the UAE: this is the first time an associate-level cricketing country has been provided the chance to hold the World Cup,” he added.
“Now the real hard work begins: we’ve met with the ICC and have a list of demands from them, but we now need to meet with the BCCI (Board for Control of Cricket in India) and see what their needs are.”
“We shall leave no stone unturned to exceed the requirements of the BCCI and ICC,” said Khimji. “Oman will certainly extend a very warm welcome to all the teams, officials and media in October.”
Madhu Jesrani, the general secretary of the OCA, was also of a similar vein, saying there were many modifications and upgrades that needed to be done to the cricket grounds in Amerat, where the T20 matches are scheduled to be held.
“The first thing we need to do is upgrade our floodlights so that they meet the required standards, and we also need to install two TV towers for broadcast purposes,” he said.
“There are also a lot of other preparations that need to be made, including plans for a COVID bubble, which will include all the areas the teams can visit. We have three months to finish all of this work, and we are confident we will finish it on time.”
Preliminary rounds from one of the qualifying group stages for the Super 12 stage of the tournament will be held in Oman, the other will take place next door.
The two groups feature four teams each, and the countries that finish in the top two positions will join the eight teams in the next stage of the World Cup.
Another priority for the OCA, according to Jesrani, is to vaccinate all of the players and officials from the Oman cricket team who will be involved in the tournament.
“In all the years that I have been in Oman, I never expected a tournament of this magnitude, particularly a cricket event, to come here,” he explained.
“We have been able to bring it here due to the hard work of the OCA and others involved. We are extremely happy with being able to have the World Cup here.”
With Oman being one of the eight teams looking to seal a spot in the Super 12, they will be playing their matches at home. The other seven teams involved in qualifying are Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, Namibia, and Papua New Guinea.
The grounds in Amerat aside, the other three venues of the tournament are in the UAE: Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the Dubai International Stadium, and the Sharjah Stadium. The BCCI, however, will continue to be the hosts of the tournament.
The T20 Cricket World Cup was scheduled to be held last year in Australia, but was pushed forward because of the pandemic, before being relocated to India. However, the ongoing COVID situation there has resulted in the tournament being moved to the Gulf.
To make sure the event runs smoothly and securely, the ICC will be liaising with teams from the BCCI, OCA, and the Emirates Cricket Board, said Geoff Allardice, the organisation’s acting CEO.
“Our priority is to deliver the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 safely, in full and in its current window. Whilst we are incredibly disappointed not to be hosting the event in India, the decision gives us the certainty we need to stage the event in a country that is a proven international host of multi-team events in a bio-secure environment.”
Ex-India captain and current BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said he was looking forward to creating a ‘spectacle’, adding: “We would have been happier hosting it in India but considering the uncertainty due to the COVID-19 situation and the importance of a world championship, the BCCI will now continue to host this tournament in UAE and Oman.”