MUSCAT: Dreams descended on Oman Cricket Academy’s sprawling twin grounds on a starry night as dozens of budding players, some of them as young as six year old, turned up on OCA’s Open Day on Tuesday night, demanding to be handled with care before they are nurtured to become a beautiful reality.
The whole Oman National Team along with its coaching and training staff was present to welcome the young boys and girls who came to learn and enjoy learning at the OCA’s top class facilities. Almost every member of Oman Cricket’s enterprising Board of Directors, led by Chairman Kanak Khimji, was available and excited to see such an encouraging response to its Open Day idea.
Welcoming the players and their parents, Evert Laubscher, OCA Manager and Oman National Team Trainer, said the players can register for the coaching programme of their choice at www.omancricket.org before the sessions start on March 15.
“You are free to enjoy the wonderful OCA facilities, meet the coaching staff, interact with your favourite Oman stars and even test your cricket skills on the excellent turf pitches tonight. This is a fun night and everything has been designed to make you comfortable,” he added, advising the youngsters before the action started on grassy floodlit grounds.
Explaining what OCA offered, Duleep Mendis, Chief Development Officer of Oman Cricket, said coaching sessions for different age groups had been designed and players from Under-9 to Under-19 could all register and benefit from the facilities under the guidance of the best coaches in Oman.
“Now that Oman National Team has done so well at international level, once again taking the country’s flag to the World Cup which will be held in Australia later this year, Oman Cricket wants to encourage young Omanis to start playing cricket. They have seen the wonderful facilities we have at OCA tonight. We are expecting more Omani parents bringing in their children here to learn the game at probably the best facility in the region made available to the public at nominal cost,” added Mendis who is also Oman team’s head coach.
The coaching sessions comprising as many as 10 players in a group start from as low as RO 20 per month while a specialized one-on-one individual session is fixed at a monthly fee of at RO 40. Details of all the options and varied fee structure are available at Oman Cricket’s website and parents can choose the session according to the age group of their children.
The first day unfolded some eye-catching talent, particularly the left-arm spinner Ayush Shetty in the Under-9 age group, bowling looping deliveries that spun with unfailing accuracy from a lovely action and follow through. He won instant praise from Jay Oddedra, Oman’s off-spin bowler. Ayush plays for Indian School wadi Kabir’s U-13 side in the Junior League and scored an amazing hat-trick in a game against Bowsher Olympic Centre.
All the young players were quite fascinated by the indoor facilities too and enjoyed batting against a bowling machine that threw a lot of variations at them.
Rasheed Najman Al Balushi was pleased to bring his two sons, Najman and Mohammed, to the grounds and wants them to play for Oman in future.
“I want them to learn the game. They are already training under the coaching of Javed Al Balushi, who is a qualified coach. But I have brought them here tonight and my third son Zaid will also join tomorrow. I will be a very proud father if they play and do well for their country,” he added.
Keeping a close eye on her two sons who want to bat like Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Mrs Mubarak said they were newly introduced to cricket but she would love to support them in following their cricket dreams.
Dr Kapil Venkatachalam, helping his 8-year old son Advait to bat like Brian Lara one day, said the Open Day was a revelation.
“A lot of parents and players got a first hand experience of the wonderful facilities and the coaching team. This is the best way forward for Oman Cricket to tap the unknown talent from far and wide. If the kids are groomed at the right age, they may go on to represent Oman one day. Tonight is the beginning to that journey,” added Kapil, who is also a qualified ICC and ACC scorer and a respected umpire.
Apart from Evert, the coaching team includes Adeel Shafeeq, Pervez Abdul Qadir Al Balushi, Zeeshan Siddiqui and Mazhar Saleem Khan, all highly qualified coaches with loads of international experience.