Sharjah: Most Palestinians may have hardly heard of cricket but Mariam Omar is on a mission to prove that Palestinians can become cricket stars.
Omar captained the Kuwait women’s national team in the UAE International Women’s T20 tournament with a string of good scores and even bagged the best batswoman award.
Speaking to Gulf News after receiving the best batswoman trophy, Omar said: “I think Arabs have got a chance in this game. If I can win it, I think many more can do it too. I think cricket fever is something anyone can catch.”
Omar recalled how she came to fall in love with cricket, which her parents had never even heard of.
“I went to a Pakistan school in Kuwait. In my last year of school, I joined their talent hunt. When I started off, I did not even know how to hold a cricket bat but today I am holding the best batswoman trophy. Thanks to my coaches Tariq Rasool and Tahir Khan, they trained me really well,” said Omar, who was born in Kuwait but took up cricket only at the age of 17 in 2010. Fortunately for Omar, her parents encouraged her love for cricket.
“My parents do not even understand cricket. They don’t know the rules or anything but they supported me after seeing me work really hard on my game. Today my parents are really happy and proud of me,” added Omar.
“Kuwait Cricket helped me a lot. I attended their umpiring course and even the coaching course and all these helped me enhance my game. I have learned the rules and tactics working closely with my coaches as well. My coaches even advised me to watch the game on television since I never had a cricket background. They told me that by watching matches on television I can learn cricket tactics.”
Omar took the advice from her coaches so seriously that her tactical knowledge of the game won her the captaincy of the Kuwait women’s team. Soon she went on to sparkle in the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) tournament as Kuwait’s opening batswoman.
Omar had even watched the great contests at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the nineties on television. “I have watched legends play at the Sharjah stadium and so to come here and play in a tournament and win the best batswoman award is indeed special,” she said.
Incidentally, her cricket hero is South Africa’s AB De Villiers.
Omar has moved to Australia not only to develop her game but also in her studies. “I am now a Masters student in Australia and I play there. I am training hard hoping to play in the Big Bash. Being in Australia, it is a good chance to develop my skills and enhance my cricket. It’s a dream opportunity for any cricketer.”
Omar plays for two clubs in Melbourne. “I am based in Melbourne and I play for Port Melbourne Cricket Club that is a men’s team and I am playing in the men’s division. I am also playing in the women’s division, which is Essendon Maribyrnong Park (EMP).”
Omar wants to keep improving as a player. “I want to improve my leg side shots. My coaches have been recording my game and I will be co-ordinating with them. I like to be an all-rounder though I enjoy batting. I bowl off spin too,” said Omar, who also works hard on her fitness.
“I am fit because I work really hard by training five days a week, I swim, play basketball and other sports as well. My dream and aim is to play in the Big Bash.”