One-time ACC Trophy finalists (2004), ACC Twenty20 winners and 2011 World Cup Qualifier contenders Oman, after several years of drift, have shifted to a higher gear. Roy Dias will be the next coach and work is being done on getting a ground at Al Amerat fully turfed and ready by August 2013.

One of Sri Lanka’s best ever batsmen, Roy Dias coached Sri Lanka in 1999 and then Nepal from 2001 to 2010. His success in Nepal was based on creating a core of disciplined dependables with young players sprung into the senior team at just the right time. Typically, he’d gather the players for two months before a tournament in camps where he’d drill them. And drill them. And drill them again. Under the coach, Nepal won every ACC youth title at least once, barring the U-16 Elite in 2010 where they reached the Final. His last match in charge of the Nepal national team was a narrow loss to Sri Lanka in the Guangzhou Asian Games. So, if Oman set him a target, he’s quite likely to be able to achieve it. Oman have some fine players, with Arabs playing in increasing numbers. “Coaching in Nepal is quite different from coaching in Oman, I am well aware of it. But I will focus on the system that I work in - training the national team while working on building a solid supply line. I focus a lot on junior cricket, that's where you get good cricketers from, who you can groom. I tried this method in Nepal. I focused on age-group cricket, and over the years the country began shining in tournaments,” says the coach.

Roy Dias, a very popular man in Nepal

It’s the lack of turf at home which hurts Oman the most when they travel. For the ACC Twenty20 in Nepal, Oman’s new coach hopes to take his team for a preparatory camp to the country. The ground at Al Amerat has long been talked of. Oman Cricket’s Pankaj Khimji says, ''Getting the ground levelled at the Al Amerat was one of the most difficult tasks. But other work related to slope of the field, laying of clay and many more have still to be taken up to make it an ideal green cricket ground. We will have to import clay from outside and also hire a top-class curator, which will be next in the agenda.” And there’s an Academy in the pipeline too. With initial funding from the government and the ACC, the aim is to make these facilities as self-financing as possible with them being used for foreign teams’ training camps, Oman’s climate being the most temperate in the Gulf.

Oman Cricket’s Madhu Jesrani and the ACC’s Iqbal Sikander at Al Amerat, July 2010 The site of Oman Cricket’s Academy at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex

Mr. Khimji also wants more full-time local coaches to be created who can take cricket to the Arab and expatriate schools.

Oman Cricket Profile

Filed August 17th, 2011