Oman is set to become the first Arab country to host the global Twenty20 tournament which comes with huge stakes for its organizers and a golden opportunity to win new fans.
The Sultanate will host the 2015 World T20 tournament in a year’s time, after losing out to South Africa in a thrilling final at The Oval in London in April. But Abdullah al-Attiya, the general manager of the Moqowri World Cup organizing committee, said that the decision by the International Cricket Council to award Oman the tournament was truly a game changer.
“It will be a landmark for us; it’ll be one in a million that we’ll showcase our best to the world,” he said. “It’s about putting Muscat on the map as a modern city and performing a positive contribution to the UAE [United Arab Emirates] and to regional and global events as a whole.”
Al-Attiya said that the five-match T20 World Cup will give Muscat the opportunity to showcase its young talented players and draw in the two to three million expatriates living in Oman.
“This will be the biggest day of sport in Oman ever,” he said. “The moment the World Cup announcement was made, it just lit the city of Muscat on fire. I’ve been talking to people since, saying, ‘We don’t have any concrete ideas, but it’s too big to miss.’”
The facilities the tournament will provide will also give Muscat a shot in the arm, he said.
Omani players will be given the opportunity to make their names and their country a force on the world stage. “It’ll be huge for us,” Al-Attiya said. “It’ll give a lot of kids, guys who grew up wanting to play cricket, the chance to come back to a new country and get bigger games. We’re trying to attract a lot of new talent from Oman and maybe get the country playing at an international level in that time.”
The 50-over World Cup will commence with the UAE being one of six test-playing nations alongside Australia, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies. Each team will take on teams from their territory and use the limited overs format to decide the champion.