‘Oman needs to nurture young talents’

Rakesh Sharma, Oman U-19 cricket coach

Muscat: The Oman Under-19 cricket coach, Rakesh Sharma, has urged Oman Cricket (OC) to safeguard those young players who had an excellent showing at the recently-concluded ACC U-19 Challenge Cup in Thailand.

In an interview with the Times Sport, the former Muscat CT player-turned-coach, who guided the Sultanate team to the runners-up spot, said the current under-19 squad players have a promising future.

"I see a bright future for these players. They are very talented and Oman Cricket officials should take all necessary steps to nurture these talents for the future," Rakesh said.

"Most of these players might go abroad for studies, and a few may not play due to various other commitments. There is a need to safeguard these talents, and I am sure Oman Cricket will do something about it," he said.

In the ACC U-19 Challenge Cup that concluded in Bangkok last week, the U-19 team won all three matches to top Group B, before they lost to Singapore in the finals by 16 runs.

"That final match was so close. We were so close to winning the championship, yet at one point we felt the task was difficult. I do not want to blame these young players. The fact that we reached the final was the most satisfying part for me as a coach," he said.

When asked if the players were carried-away in the final, Rakesh said: "I don't think they got carried-away simply because they were playing in the final. They were determined to win the championship and come back to Oman with the trophy, but cricket is such an unpredictable game that when everything was going so well for us, we suddenly found ourselves in a difficult position.

"It is purely bad luck, and that is what I felt. They played their hearts out in that match, but at times you have to accept the strange reality."

"After the match, most of the players came to me personally and apologised for losing, but I told them this is just a start. Winning and losing is part and parcel of any game. The real success is when you start accepting that fact," he said.

Rakesh heaped praise on the three Omani players, Shuaib Al Balushi, Wasim Al Balushi and Ibrahim Al Harthy, for their spirited show. "These three Omani players have shown what they are capable of. They were just brilliant on the field," he said.

The Oman coach also thanked the technical staff for keeping the players fully fit throughout the tournament.

"Full credits to Dr. Manjunath for keeping our players fit. We began the preparations two months ago, and till the end of the tournament not a single player on our team had an injury. The credit goes to him for the way he has taken care of the players," he said.

Rakesh, who had previously represented the Oman national team, said the local governing body should think about including the Under-19 in the A division league in the future.

"That is something that needs to be studied. These players have a great future, and my suggestion to OC is that they should include them in the A division League so that they will have good exposure for playing in the 50-over-format, and it will help them in the future, as well," Rakesh added.


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