Muscat: After making a ‘big impact’ at the ICC World T20, Oman team are all set to switch formats and start preparing for the World Cricket League Division Five competition.
Duleep Mendis-coached squad’s exploits at the World T20 preliminary round in India, including a thrilling victory over Ireland, caught the attention of cricket world and won plaudits from the pundits.
But now the team are gearing up to get into the 50-over mode ahead of their participation in the World Cricket League Division 5 with an ultimate aim of climbing back into Division 2 in two years time.
According to Duleep Mendis, the Sultanate squad will start their preparations for the May tournament, to be organised in Jersey, in the right earnest with an internal camp this week.
Speaking to Times Sport, the Sri Lankan great said: “The boys are now very confident after our participation in the ICC World T20. But now is the time to switch to 50-over format.”
“First I would like to congratulate the team for their wonderful show at the World T20. All credit to the boys. They showed a lot of self belief and performed admirably in Dharamsala,” he said.
Duleep Mendis, who is also the Chief Development Officer of Oman Cricket, also thanked the Sultanate’s cricket body for giving the right support for the team.
“The boys made a very big impact in India. But we need to thank Oman Cricket officials for supporting the team,” he said while specifically mentioning the names of Pankaj Khimji (board member) and Madhu Jesrani (general secretary).
“From the planning stage, during the competition and right up to now, Pankaj and Madhu have always been behind the boys. I would like to stress the word ‘always’. That kind of support really boosted the confidence of boys and the results are there to see,” he said.
Duleep, however, stressed that ‘now the need is to adjust to 50-over format’.
“Now the conditions will be different, both climate wise as well as competition wise. So it is very essential for the boys to adjust themselves to the 50-over format,” he said.
The World Cricket League Division 5 competition will take place in Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands between England and France, and Duleep Mendis believes the conditions will be more like in England.
“In Jersey, we will mostly likely be playing in kind of English conditions, very different from subcontinent conditions, in which we have been training and playing in the past few months.
“But we have to adjust to both the format and the conditions. It’s difficult but we have to be ready and the preparations have to begin right away,” he added.
Duleep, meanwhile, expressed delight at the involvement of his wards in the domestic league.
“Fortunately, all our players are now involved in Oman Cricket League and more importantly they are also playing in 50-over matches. That’s a plus,” he said.
Giving details of the preparations for the Jersey competition, he said: “We will start with a training camp, where the focus will be more on physical conditioning and endurance as well.”
“The training will continue for a period of six weeks and after the initial conditioning camp, we will switch to technical aspects,” he added.
Pool of talent
Asked about the availability of eligible players for the tournament, he said: "We have a good pool of talent, both among the nationals and expatriates, to choose from."
According to the ICC regulation, unlike the T20 matches, the 50-over matches require a player to have spent more than seven years in a country to be eligible to represent that country. In the shortest format, the criterion is four years.
Speaking about Oman’s chances at the six-team competition in Jersey, Duleep refused to make predictions.
“It’s too early to talk about the results and make predictions. But none of the teams can be taken lightly.”
Oman’s coach, however, expressed the hope that the team will climb back to the World League Division 2.
“The aim is to reach World League Division 2 in two years time when the current cycle concludes. That definitely is our objective,” he added.
Back in 2007 Oman were in Division 2 and in the competition held in Namibia finished second behind the United Arab Emirates, clinching a berth in the 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier.
But since then they slipped to Division 5 even though they kept performing well in the Twenty20 format.
This year’s Division 5 Competition, which forms part of the 2012–18 cycle of the World Cricket League, takes place in Jersey from May 21 to 28 and Oman and hosts Jersey will be competing with teams like Tanzania and Nigeria, third and fourth placed teams from 2014 WCL Division 5, and Guernsey and Vanuatu, second and third placed teams from 2015 WCL Division 6.
Surname who originally qualified as the Division 6 toppers withdrew after the ICC launched an investigation over eligibility of some their players and their place was taken by Vanuatu.
In the tournament to be played in a round robin format followed by a knockout stages, Oman are scheduled to start their campaign on May 21 with a match against hosts Jersey.
On May 22, Oman will clash with Nigeria and that will be followed by matches against Vanuatu on May 24, Tanzania on May 25 and Guernsey on May 27.
The classification matches as well as the final will be played on May 28.
May 21: Jersey vs Oman; Nigeria vs Tanzania; Guernsey vs Vanuatu.
May 22: Jersey vs Vanuatu; Guernsey vs Tanzania; Nigeria vs Oman.
May 24: Jersey vs Tanzania; Guernsey vs Nigeria; Oman vs Vanuatu.
May 25: Oman vs Tanzania; Jersey vs Guernsey; Nigeria vs Vanuatu.
May 27: Tanzania vs Vanuatu; Jersey vs Nigeria; Guernsey vs Oman.
May 28: 5th place playoff, 3rd place playoff and Final.