Muscat: Ahead of the ACC Twenty20 Cup in Nepal next month, national cricket coach Duleep Mendis has recommended Oman Cricket (OC) to arrange few warm-up matches in the country.
Speaking to Times Sport on the sidelines of the signing agreement ceremony between OC and NPA Events at Mumtaz Mahal Hotel yesterday, the former Sri Lankan skipper also said preparations are in full swing for the tournament which will be held from March 26 to April 3 in Nepal.
"We are having a good camp here and the preparations are going good. I am quite happy with the way things are moving at this stage. But it would be great to play few warm-up games before we fly to Nepal so that we get full-prepared," he said.
OC is trying to get few teams from UAE for the friendly games; however, Mendis is looking to warm-up against strong teams as Oman is grouped among the difficult teams from the region.
In Group B, Oman is placed with defending champions Afghanistan, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain.
"To play against these teams we need to warm-up against stronger teams than these sides. We are trying to get few teams here and we are also looking at various other options. We are also looking to have an external camp soon, if it is possible," Mendis noted.
The legendary cricketer who played for Sri Lanka for 18 years in both ODI's and Tests said he is "upset" by the absence of Omani players in the side.
"There are only two Omani players in the camp right now, though we would have expected more to be there," he said.
According to Pankaj Khimji, OC board member, though they had invited all Omani teams for the selection camp, only 16 players could be picked.
"But unfortunately out of those 16 players only two Omani players reported for the camp," he said.
Pankaj while admitting that there is 'reluctance' among the Omani players to join the national camp, he said the board is finding a solution to close the gap.
"I admit that there is reluctance. There are various reasons but we must find way to make them comfortable at the camp and make them play the game with purpose," he added.
Mendis is of the view that an all-Omani team should play in the A Division League next season. "That could open doors for many Omani players to play for the country in future," he said.
Mendis also said the eligibility age restrictions have forced him to sacrifice many talented players from the team. "We have quite a number of good talented players but most of them have to sit out because of these restrictions," he said.
According to the ICC rules, a foreign player has to reside for a minimum of 183 days in a member country to be a "deemed national" in order to play for that country.
"We hope something would be done about it in the future. But I am happy with the way we are preparing. I am also getting more support from the board that I expected which is a positive sign," he added.