Muscat: Oman Cricket (OC) has often said that the interest shown by Omani (national) cricketers is at a bare minimum and that's why they don't figure whenever national cricket teams are selected for international tournaments.
But the same Omani cricketers, who are actively taking part in League tournaments organised by OC, have a different view.
They claim that citizens who play the game seriously are often ignored by the board, and they have lost hope in the selection process.
As is often pointed out, the Sultanate is the only country in which a large number of citizens and expatriate residents play the game.
But often, it is found that these nationals, who are indeed the future of the game in the country, have been ignored.
As a result, the Omani cricketers have grouped together to voice their concerns and have even gone to the extent of setting an appointment with the Minister of Sports Affairs.
Lack of focus
Speaking on their behalf, Mohammed Aslam, a member of the B Division champions, Muscat CT, confirmed that there had been a lack of focus by the board on Omani cricketers in general.
We are not treated on par with other players," said Aslam in a brief chat with Times Sport. "But I must say, the board is also helping us in many other ways, especially in supporting our basic necessities to play for the League."
But, Aslam stressed, that is just not enough. "We are the future of the game in the country, and we need to be recognised and encouraged further."
Aslam confirmed that the decision to voice their concerns was made during a recent meeting of all Omani cricketers. "We definitely need to be heard," he stated.
"We, through Dad Mohammed Al Balushi, an OC board member and co-ordinator for Omani cricketers, have sent a communiqué to the board, seeking a meeting to address our grievances, but there has been no response to date," remarked Aslam.
"We have been asking for a coach to train the local cricketers, but this request too has evoked no response, and moreover, the Omani teams are not allowed to use the new green turf ground," Aslam pointed out.
"When we requested for the ground to play, we were asked to pay for the use," noted Aslam.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Anwar of OCT Hatat backed Aslam's views.
"We have communicated with the board, and we hope that the meeting will happen and our grievances will be considered. If that doesn't happen, we will certainly meet the Minister of Sports Affairs next week," asserted Mohammed Anwar.
Aslam added that Omani cricketers have every right to be selected for national duty.
"What we find now is that the same set of players is being picked with a figurehead representation from only two Omani players. We have experienced this many times, and that's why we did not play a part in the selection camp this time. It is not that we have lost interest in the game, but we have lost hope in the current process," he declared.
Even national coach Duleep Mendis had expressed his concern over the lack of Omani participation. He had pointed out the need for awards, rewards, and incentives to attract nationals and spread the game across the country.
What Mendis expressed was a vision of hope, but what Omani cricketers have portrayed is the reality.
Vaibhav to lead
Meanwhile, OC has selected the national team for the ACC Twenty20 Cup to be held in Nepal from March 26 onwards, but it has yet to announce the names of the players through the media.
It is believed that the board has been forced to keep the squad under wraps with regard to the issue of Omani players.
Another startling fact is that details of the Oman team have already been published on the ACC website, and it has only one Omani player in it. Although some of the players mentioned on the website will not be part of the tournament, Vaibhav Wategoankar is confirmed to have taken the mantle from Hemal Mehta, but the latter will remain in the team.
According to sources, the two Omani players in the team are Sayyid Qais bin Khalid Al Said and Suyfan Mahmood.
Khalid Rasheed and Awal Khan have been named in the list posted on the website, but it is believed that they are not going to be part of the yet-to-be-announced team.