Kumble, Jayawardene praise progress of cricket in Oman

September 23, 2019

Anil Kumble (centre) and Mahela Jayawardene (third from left) with officials (Muscat Daily)

Oman, as a cricketing nation, has come a long way, especially in the last five years, and getting ODI status is a wonderful achievement, opined former Indian captain and ace spin bowler Anil Kumble, and Sri Lanka’s ex-captain and premier batsman Mahela Jayawardene.

Both Kumble and Jayawardene were addressing the media at The Chedi Muscat on Sunday. The famed cricketers are here as guests of honour at Oman Cricket’s 40th anniversary celebration events.

“It’s wonderful to be here,” said Kumble.

“You have a good system in place, quality is there and coaching structure is fine. Hopefully, Oman can qualify for the World Cup.”

“This is my first time in Oman,” Jayawardene said.

“Last ten years have seen amazing improvement. In ten years down the line we’ll hear more about Oman. One day, we’ll see Oman in World Cup. We are here to help that cause.”

The sultanate’s men’s team is currently placed 15th in ODI and 18th in Twenty20 rankings of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The world cricket governing body is all out to help its Associate Members like Oman, said William Glenwright, general manager – development, ICC, who sat next to Jayawardene and Kumble at yesterday’s event.

“ICC is driving the game beyond traditional boundaries. ICC is quite prepared to invest in Associate teams,” said the Aussie.

To help Oman cricket advance to the next stage it’s important that the team constantly plays matches, Kumble said.

“To get the much-needed exposure it’s important that you play matches and travel to other places. You can play club teams in India and Sri Lanka,” he said.

“You need to be still ambitious,” Jayawardene said.

“You need to compete with big boys. How you balance your training and competitions is important.”

Both Kumble and Jayawardene agreed that Oman needs to look at ways to improve the game at grass-roots level in a football-mad country.

“Helping local players come up in the game is what you should be looking at,” Kumble said. “For your domestic tournaments have at least one local player in the team. Encourage school players,” appealed  Jayawardene.

Kumble and Jayawardene said they will meet the cricketers on Monday and are eager to pass useful tips to them. The duo will also grace an awards ceremony in Amerat.

Senior Oman Cricket Board member Pankaj Khimji and Dulip Mendis, chief development officer, too were present at the media briefing.

A former India national team coach, Kumble (48) counts 619 Test wickets and 337 ODI wickets in a career that spanned over 18 years. Jayawardene (42), who has made a name for himself as a master tactician having led Mumbai Indians to IPL titles on two occasions as coach, scored 11,814 Test runs, 12,650 ODI runs and 1,493 T20 runs.

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