The ICC has approved the use of the Oman Cricket Academy Ground 1 at Al Amarat, Oman, for Test match cricket. The accreditation comes ahead of a planned series between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe next month. Afghanistan are exploring the use of Al Amarat as surrogate home venue.
OCA Ground 1 is one of two grounds that make up the Oman Cricket Academy at Al Amerat. The two grounds have already hosted several international events, both T20I and ODI. To date, Oman has hosted two ACC Western Regional events, a CWC League 2 tri-series and the first leg of CWC Challenge League B. The facilities at Al Amerat makes the Sultanate an increasingly popular venue for international events.
The accreditation to host test cricket is a further boost to cricket in the Sultanate. Should the planned series between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe go ahead, Al Amerat will become the 123rd venue to host a Test match, and Oman the 13th ICC member. Further, the venue will become only the 4th venue and 2nd nation not in an ICC Full Member territory to host a Test match after the neighbouring UAE.
In a press release via the Oman Cricket website, secretary Madhu Jesrani said:
‘This is a big news and a wonderful achievement for Oman Cricket. The New Year has started on such a promising note for the Sultanate. Apart from UAE, Oman is the only other Associate nation to enjoy Test, ODI and T20I status. This is a very proud moment for us all.’
New home for Afghanistan
Afghanistan have been unable to host international cricket within their own borders due to security concerns. Between 2010 and 2016, Afghanistan played all their ‘home’ internationals in Sharjah, UAE. Since ascending to full membership, Afghanistan have played home games at various venues in India. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in India, the ACB has sought new home venues, including a return to the UAE.
The upcoming ODI Super League series against Ireland was planned to be played in Abu Dhabi. However, with the Afghanistan team struggling to secure visas until Tuesday, Al Amarat was tipped as a replacement. Whilst the UAE will host the Ireland series as planned, the ACB look set to favour Oman as a more permanent surrogate home.
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