Oman ready to savor 'one in a million' opportunity as host of cricket's T20 World Cup

Piense en las naciones que juegan al cricket y en países como India, Australia e Inglaterra pueden venir a la mente. No tanto Omán, a country nestled on the corner of the Arabian Peninsula with limited history when it comes to red or white-ball versions of the game.

But that could be about to change come Sunday as Oman, alongside the neighboring United Arab Emirates, is set to host the T20 World Cup.
Originally scheduled to take place in India, it was decided earlier this year that the tournament would be moved amid the Covid-19 pandemic. So Oman, which only built its first grass cricket pitch 10 hace años que, offered its services.
    It’s purely a one in a million years opportunity,” Pankaj Khimji, chairman of Oman Cricket, tells CNN Sport.
      Never has an associate country [on the International Cricket Council] hosted a World Cup. And not just that, has also played in one simultaneously. This is a big high for us in Oman.
        It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of hosting an international cricket tournament would have been unthinkable. There were a handful of brown pitches with concrete wickets in the center, one of which was later updated to astroturf.
        The Oman Cricket Academy in Muscat is inaugurated in November 2018.

        Cada año, stones and pebbles would be painstakingly removed from the outfield and sand placed on the surface. But that hardly made the prospect of diving for a catch any more appealing.
          You never dived,” explains Khimji. “You could get second, third degree burns from having skin scraped offit was vicious earth.
          no hace falta decir que, playing conditions have been dramatically improved ahead of Oman’s T20 World Cup opener against Papua New Guinea at the Al-Amerat Cricket Stadium, situado 18 kilometers outside the capital of Muscat.
          The stadium’s seatingpreviously comprising of 52 park benches shaded under treeshas been upgraded to a 5,000-seat infrastructure; the venue’s lighting system has been enhanced and a press box and media center have also been addedall in the space of 90 dias.
          This year marks the seventh edition of the T20 World Cup: 45 matches which run from October 17 to November 14.
          Oman will contest a preliminary group that includes Papua New Guinea, Scotland and Bangladesh, from which the top two teams qualify for the Super 12sthe later stage of the tournament.
          Backed by 4,000 home fans at each game, Khimji is confident that this Omani team — “a good vintage” — can qualify for the next round. He adds, aunque, that on-field success is just part of the aim.
          Omán's Bilal Khan appeals against Hong Kong at the 2017 Desert T20 Challenge.

          If I can put Oman in the minds of the cricketing audience globally and how beautiful it is, and then even if one in 50 start looking up on the internet and say: 'Oye, what’s happening in Oman?’ and start searching Oman, that itself will be a major accomplishment,” él dice.
          According to Khimji, fútbol, sailing and fishingwhich benefits from the country’s extensive coastlineare all popular in Oman.
          The cricket team, mientras tanto, is made up of part-time players who balance their sporting commitments with nine-to-five jobs.
          Every time they play a tournament, they have to secure permission from their so-called employers to relieve them to go on national team duty,” says Khimji.
          “Algunas veces, it’s a challenge. More often than not, these employers have been very, muy apoyador … Some of them have retained their jobs, some of them have been put on a stipend every time they go out to play.
          The pandemic has delayed the launch of a grassroots program in Oman, which would see cricket played for four hours each week in schools across the country.
          Once this foundation is in place, the standout players would then have the chance to play professional or semi-professional cricket further down the line.
          Locals play a cricket match in Muscat in December 2010.

          But for those who will represent Oman at this year’s World Cupalmost all of whom are expat playersthe rewards won’t necessarily be financial.
          “En 10 años’ hora, they’ll be telling their children stories about how their father played cricket at the World Cup,” says Khimji.
            I think that’s what it’s all about now. They’re all playing for pride, passion, familia, país, amigos. I’m very proud of the bunch.
            Before those stories can be told, an historic sporting moment awaits for Oman as the T20 World Cup is just the bowl of a ball and the swing of a bat away.

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