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Wisden 2017

By Grockle et al
May 5 2017

As we need an update and I usuallyt at this time provide the master version of Grockles Wisden entry for the year (it is becoming a weirdly regular thing now).  We now sem to be the voice of Omani cricket eaxh year.  We were there in 2016, have returned in 2017 and have already been contracted to return again in 2018.  I usuallly leave this until I have a quick update to do and will cover it with a story later this week I hope if I get to the Hampshire one dayer.  But here it is.  The editors did an excellent job with this one I am not sorry to say.

This is NOT the version on page 1148 (I think) of the 2017 Wisden.  It's the final draft sent to be cleaned up and shortened into something sensible.


For the cricketers of Oman, 2016 was a whirlwind of activity as the small Gulf nation went from a rank of 29th languishing in World Cricket League (WCL) Division 5 to being one of the top 16 T20 nations and ending the year in WCL Division 3 after coming second to the USA in the November Los Angeles qualifying tournament.

Oman’s qualification for the T20 World Cup in India in March was a phenomenal achievement. It was expected to have ended there, but the side’s debut in Dharmasala against Ireland on the 9th turned into another sensational upset as they beat one of the favourites for Super Ten qualification by two wickets with 2 balls to spare. During that game the ‘catch of the tournament’, a flying one handed grab by Zeeshan Maqsood to send Paul Sterling back to the pavilion, showed how far Omani cricket had come in the three years since the first grass pitch was opened in the Sultanate. After putting up a creditable but ultimately losing performance against Bangladesh and especially Tamim Iqbal the Omanis should have returned home as conquering heroes to a nation excited by their sporting achievements.

But Oman is a cricket contradiction. The sport is the country’s most successful outing on any international stage yet two thirds of the native population are blissfully unaware of that. The victorious Omani side came back to be applauded at Indian schools and feasted by prominent Asian based companies and individuals. They found Omani cricket in the spotlight with Cricinfo writing about a “…packed seasonal schedule running from September to April, an eight-division corporate league featuring 92 clubs, 30 school teams, 40-odd Level I and II qualified umpires, and a youth development a country where cricket has mostly been played on grassless, utterly brown outfields…”

The game is played predominantly by the 750,000 strong Asian working class. Indigenous Omani involvement is small in terms of players and almost non-existent in terms of management. Support from the government has increased this year and new sponsorship by Omantel on the back of international success has made a difference.

Oman continued to excel in the second half of the year. Firstly, their 50 over game gained more global recognition as they qualified for WCL4 during May in Jersey under new captain, Ajay Lalcheta who replaced wicketkeeper batsman Sultan Ahmed.
Players found themselves in demand outside of Oman. New vice-captain Jatinder Singh, Munis Ansari and Zeeshan negotiated summer league UK and Ireland contracts. The move to WCL3 came in November where the US coach admitted specifically preparing for Oman during his lead up. Oman finished the year with a second grass pitch ready at the national stadium in Al Amerat.

The present side has an average age of 32.2 with Sufyan Mehmood and Yousef Mahmoud as the only two significant Omani born players in the squad. Future progress relies on youth, future government support relies on indigenous youth. The National Development side won the 2015 B League and now operates in the 2016 Premier League. Exciting young Omanis like Shoaib Albalushi are playing top level cricket. But the governing body of Omani cricket, the OCC, struggles to provide Arabic speakers for school visits. Does this suggests a possible lack of commitment to that native Omani cricketing cause?

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Wisden 2017 (IP Logged)
05/05/2017 17:20
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:05:14:10:53:40 by Grockle.

Re: Wisden 2017
Wickham (IP Logged)
07/05/2017 16:42
A very interesting read, Grockle - in fact it is so good, you've pasted it in twice.

Re: Wisden 2017
Grockle (IP Logged)
07/05/2017 17:35
Cheers Wickham.... that is what happens when you update from a mobile in Departures.


Re: Wisden 2017
Wickham (IP Logged)
07/05/2017 22:36
The redoubtable Willie Whitelaw, after having given way to a back-bencher during a Commons speech, resumed his speech at the wrong place and found himself reading again a passage which he had already read. As others in the Chamber noticed, this caused some merriment. Whitelaw, having realised what he had done, manfully continued and at the end of the passage said "That was very important, so I thought that I should repeat it".

Re: Wisden 2017
Clarence Parker (IP Logged)
07/05/2017 22:43
Did not the said Willie Whitelaw of the "short sharp shock" line of thought also say -

"It is never wise to try to appear to be more clever than you are. It is sometimes wise to appear slightly less so."

What a star he was.

Re: Wisden 2017
Wickham (IP Logged)
07/05/2017 23:03
He was indeed, CP - a very decent man (whatever one's political views), who treated his staff extremely well (and I suspect, probably didn't genuinely believe in the short, sharp shock).

Following a Tory bye-election success, he gave an interview in which he said something like "I've been told not to look as if I'm gloating. So, I'm not looking as if I'm gloating. But I'm gloating inside".

Everyone knows the slightly unfortunate Thatcher quote "Everyone needs a Willie". But this was probably more true than even she realised - his departure, due to ill health, was arguably the beginning of the end for her.

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