Learning from the legends

Cricket is known to be a gentleman’s game and Oman National Team had the opportunity to interact with, and learn from, two of the game’s most eligible gentlemen - Anil Kumble of India and Mahela Jayawardene of Sri Lanka - during their visit to Oman Cricket Academy (OCA) on Monday.

Eager to learn from their wide and varied experience in international cricket, Oman players found the two legendary players quite keen to oblige and offer tips that would go a long way in helping them know how to prepare for important games.

Accompanied by William Glenwright, head of Global Development at ICC, Oman team mentor Pankaj Khimji, board secretary Madhu Jesrani and head coach Dulip Mendis, both Kumble and Jayawardene were visibly pleased to see the top-class training and practice facilities at OCA.

“I am impressed by the facilities available here at OCA. Oman Cricket has done wonderfully well to have developed all this the way they have. Such excellent training facilities, quality coaching staff and two wonderful green grounds give Oman players a wonderful opportunity to keep improving their game,” said Kumble.

He exhorted Oman players to make the most of the opportunity to participate in the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier.

“You have this opportunity to qualify for the World Cup. Rise to the occasion by raising your game. Focus on one match at a time without worrying about the qualification. Play hard and positive. You have all the talent to succeed at international level. You can see how Afghanistan has come up in recent years. Go out and enjoy the game. You are most likely to succeed when you are enjoying the game,” said the most successful bowler for India with over 900 international wickets to his credit.

Talking to the players, former Sri Lanka captain Jayawardene advised them to remain calm in the middle and keep things simple.

“Each game of cricket is basically a battle between bat and ball so your focus should always be on that. You need to learn to deal with pressure and for that you need to control things. Don’t let the pressure of net run rate force you to throw your wicket away. Even if you need 50 runs in 5 overs, you still have 30 balls to do that. You only need to hit five of them to the boundary and the rest can all be singles and doubles,” said the Sri Lankan great who scored more than 20,000 runs in international cricket.

“I cannot overemphasise the value of rotating strike in T20 cricket. When you are taking ones and twos you are making the bowler think and forcing him to make a mistake. Be prepared for the moment he does,” added Jayawardene.

Kumble advised the bowlers to be positive and always think of taking wickets.

“Even if you use variations you must still be focused on taking wickets. If you are afraid of getting hit, chances are you will invariably be hit for runs,” stressed the Indian leg-spinner.

“You must always prepare for situations in the match. The last four overs in a T20 game are always bowled by the fast bowlers but you should be prepared if the captain throws the ball to you if you are a spinner. If you have prepared for this situation chances are you’ll handle it well,” he added.

The two cricket greats kept answering questions from players and support staff, leading to quality interaction that may have resulted in some useful tips and solutions too.

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