Muscat: An Oman cricket team at the 2026 Asian Games in Japan or an all-Omani national squad at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 2028. Well, it could be a reality as Oman Cricket (OC) embarks on their latest endeavour to build an elite all-Omani team.
The initiative launched recently has seen OC handpick a group of promising 16 Omani cricketers, with the aim to have a pool of 20, who will be nurtured and groomed by expert coaches for competing at the global level.
With cricket's inclusion in the Asian Games and the upcoming 2028 Olympics, the focus of Oman Cricket board is now to build a team comprised entirely of Omani talent.
It's noteworthy that with cricket's inclusion in the Asian Games and the upcoming Los Angeles Olympics in 2028, eligibility to participate is limited to national players or passport holders. This contrasts with ICC events, where expatriates become eligible to represent the national team after completing a specific period of residence in the respective country.
Duleep Mendis, Oman Cricket's Chief Development Officer, expressed confidence in this venture: "Our aim is to cultivate a national team composed solely of Omani players. We've meticulously chosen this initial group of 16 individuals with an aim to have a pool of 20. We will be providing them with the same resources and opportunities available to our national senior team. We have started this mission to have an Omani team play at the Asian Games and at the Olympics in future."
Mendis emphasised the long-term goal: "Preparing these players for the international stage will require dedicated effort and time. We aspire for them to not just participate but to compete at a high level. Their progress will be closely monitored, and their commitment to learning and adapting swiftly will be crucial in their selection."
The selected group comprises predominantly young talent, with 80 percent of the players under the age of 27. Seasoned campaigner Sher Mohammad has been appointed as the team manager along with Rashad Mohammed and Majid Hussein as co-ordinators, entrusted with overseeing the comprehensive programme designed for their growth.
Mendis said: “These 16 have been selected from the seven all-Omani teams that feature in our domestic league. The seven teams also play an all-Omani league among themselves. We will begin their training sessions from mid-December, and we hope that some of them will be good enough to play for the senior national team in the years to come at the ICC events.”
Alongside training sessions, plans are underway for bilateral series against lower-ranked T20I teams and a GCC tournament, further honing the team's skills and competitive edge.
The journey to see an all-Omani team represent the Sultanate on international platforms like the Asian Games and the Olympics is a challenging yet promising endeavour for Oman Cricket, reflecting their commitment to fostering Omani talent and promoting the sport's growth within the country.
The next continental event will be the 2026 Asian Games, also known as 20th Asian Games and Aichi-Nagoya 2026, which will be around the Aichi Prefecture in Japan from September 19 to October 4.
Picked probables: Sufyan Mehmood, Sadiq Abdul Majeed, Majid Hussain, Qais Khalid, Arif Abdul Majeed, Waheed Khalid, Issa Raheem Al Balushi, Naveed Abdul Majeed, Waleed Raheem Al Balushi, Shoaib Ismail Al Balushi, Zubair Ali Akbar Al Balushi, Mohammed Ali Akbar Al Balushi, Imran Ismail Al Balushi, Moeed Abdul Majeed, Ahmed Al Zadjali, Waseem Ismail Al Balushi.
Officials: Aamir Kaleem (coach), Amir Ali (assistant coach), Rashad Mohammed (co-ordinator),
Majid Hussein (co-ordinator), Sher Mohammed (manager).