The Bahrain cricket team has risen to 27th in the latest International Cricket Council (ICC) men’s T20I rankings released two days ago, up one slot from its position in the previous listing, and is now ahead of Qatar, who are 28th.

The kingdom’s team, comprised of weekend amateurs with South Asian roots and day jobs who can only practice in the evenings, has climbed up four places from its 31st position in the rankings in early 2022 – not a small feat for the nation’s cricketers who play on artificial pitches with sandy outfields at home.

“This is a very positive sign for Bahrain cricket,” Bahrain Cricket Federation (BCF) head coach Bhaskar Pillai told the GDN.

“We’re steadily rising up the ICC rankings ladder and now, we’ve gone ahead of Qatar, who have an established set-up with professional cricketers and proper cricket grounds.

“I’m very proud of the boys who have responded brilliantly to anything that has been asked of them. They have risen above the limitations we have, in terms of a lack of facilities like turf wickets and grass outfields, and have collectively contributed to the team’s rapid rise in the ICC rankings.”

Pillai, a prolific former Indian first-class cricketer who told the GDN when he took charge as head coach last July that his first aim was to ensure the team ascended the ICC T20I rankings ladder, paid tribute to Supreme Council for Youth and Sports (SCYS) first deputy chairman, General Sports Authority (GSA) chairman and Bahrain Olympic Committee (BOC) president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

Head coach Pillai

“Whatever progress we’re making is all thanks to him,” Pillai said.

“He has a vision for the direction he sees Bahrain cricket taking and, as part of that, he reconstituted the board of directors last month and, very soon, we shall see the foundation being laid for a complete new infrastructure for the sport, which will include, eventually, the provision of land for proper cricket grounds.”

The BCF’s advisory board chairman and KHK Cricket president Mohammed Mansoor also thanked Shaikh Khalid saying that, with his support, the board’s target was to ensure that the Bahrain team broke into the top 20 in the ICC T20I rankings by 2024 – or, latest, 2025.

“We have no doubts about the quality of our players,” he told the GDN.

“Now, with Shaikh Khalid’s support, we will not only launch an infrastructure that will benefit future generations of cricketers, we will also be launching a big talent hunt in January where we will collaborate with the ministry of education to launch cricket in schools.

“Our goal is to get Bahraini children involved in cricket and raising the profile of the sport in schools will be the logical first step. Also, Shaikh Khalid wants more sports clubs and academies to feature cricket and KHK Sports, under CEO Mohammed Shahid, now has a cricket division which will work with the BCF to ensure that every goal is achieved.

“In addition, now that cricket has been included in the list of sports that will feature in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, we will work towards increasing the popularity of the sport across the kingdom.”

Meanwhile, the newly appointed BCF president Sami Mohamed Ali also congratulated the Bahrain team on moving up a place in the ICC T20I rankings.

“As a former cricketer myself – I led the Bahrain U17 team in the year 2000 and played club cricket in England afterwards as well – I understand the enormity of what our team has achieved in spite of the players’ access to very limited resources.

“To now be ranked 27th in the world in T20I cricket is a tremendous achievement and the BCF will work diligently to ensure that Bahrain cricket rises further and higher in the international arena over the next few years.

“I would like to express my gratitude to Shaikh Khalid for appointing me as the BCF president as well as to Mr Shahid and Mr Mansoor for their guidance and support.”

December 11, 2023

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