Muscat: Impressed with the facilities and cricket development that took place in Oman, three of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Regional Development Officers are of the opinion that Sultanate should get more support to take the game forward, including the rights to host international tournaments.
The trio — Pakistan’s Iqbal Sikander, India’s Venkatapathy Raju and Aminul Islam of Bangladesh — who are here to conduct the ICC Level 2 coaching course organised by Oman Cricket, spoke to Times Sport on Saturday night after a hectic day of activities, conducting the course and visiting the facilities, including that of privately-owned Al Hail School of Cricket.
Iqbal Sikander, who is not new to Oman having visited the country on various assignments, said: “The infrastructure is fast developing here. Oman can now boast of two venues with proper turf grounds. Then we have other private academies like Al Hail who have come up with their own green grounds. On the field too they have been doing reasonably well both in the T20s and the 50-overs tournaments, especially in the ICC World Cricket League divisions,” he said.
“Looking at these facilities and considering the overall developments, I think Oman deserves to host the international tournaments. ICC Asia is already considering the plans to allot few tournaments to Oman,” Iqbal said.
“Oman should at least get one tournament per year,” Iqbal said while adding it could be a regional T20 tournament or a ICC World Cricket League event. “But they (Oman) surely deserve to host a tournament.”
Venkatapathy Raju, who is on his first visit to the Sultanate, echoed Iqbal’s views on Oman’s cricket facilities.
“This is my visit to Oman but at least the national team are not new to me. I have been following the performances and I have watched them play in recent events in the UAE,” the former India spinner said.
“But now after having the opportunity to visit some of the facilities, after coming here to host the coaching course, I am really impressed by the facilities and I should say we all should appreciate the support Oman Cricket has been receiving as well as their own efforts in the development work,” Raju added.
“Credit should be given to all those who are involved with cricket in Oman and those who are supporting them. They are going out of their way to support cricket here.
“The two venues with turf grounds are no doubt great. Once they get all other aspects in place, they will have to maintain the standards and keep improving. I am also impressed with the other grounds as well. They are properly levelled and can be developed into green grounds in future,” Raju said.
“But I should say, it’s great to see the under-19 boys getting the opportunity to play on turf pitches on lush green grounds,” the Hyderabadi added.
Areas to develop
Referring to the facilities at Al Hail School of Cricket, which they have visited on Saturday evening, Iqbal Sikander said: “We have to appreciate the work being done by Al Hail academy. Their development work is on the right path.
“Al Hail ground is good, levelled properly and fit for playing cricket. But I think they have three major areas to look into to further develop the facilities,” he said.
“First they should replace astro turf with turf pitches. They should develop practice facilities and importantly the dressing rooms. Once these things are taken care, I think Al Hail will develop into the third cricket venue of Oman,” he explained.
Speaking about the ongoing ICC Level 2 coaching course, Iqbal said: “The course is being conducted as part of the development process... to educate and enhance the knowledge of the coaches.”
“It’s ICC Asia’s decision to have a course here on Oman and help the coaches,” he said.
The course which runs till Wednesday has attracted coaches from countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and UAE besides Oman.
Aminul Islam, who has recently become a ICC Regional Development Officer, was impressed with the enthusiasm of the participants.
“They (the participants) know the game. Most importantly they have played the game at some level and they have already passed their Level 1 course. This course is aimed at upgrading their knowledge,” the former Bangladesh captain said
“They are very enthusiastic. I have no doubt they will learn from this course and will go on to impart training to the future players of their respective countries.”
‘Always ready to help’
Meanwhile, Venkatapathy Raju said he will be ready to provide his services at the proposed spin academy to be established by Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) in his home town of Hyderabad.
While refusing to talk about the hot topic of Lodha Committee recommendations that will have far reaching affect on the Indian cricket and the present turmoil surrounding the HCA following the allegations of corruption, Raju said: “The plan to start a spin academy is a great idea. It’s still in the planning stage. But once it's launched, I will be there to assist them as I have always been doing whenever the opportunity came to help the aspiring spinners. But it will also depend on my commitment as an ICC Asian regional development officer.”