While some of the world’s top T20 batters showcased their potential at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground at Al Amerat, a couple of cricket bats were laid down to serve burgers and pastries, salads and starters, at the pavilion in the Oman Cricket (OC) chairman’s lounge.
Call it a coincidence or just label it ‘cricket and cuisine’, but it turned out to be a perfect mix at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground as Oman Cricket (OC) successfully hosted the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup for the first time while Omani hospitality and cuisine on offer was, indeed, the icing on the cake.
Cricket, certainly, was the common ingredient as Oman made history by becoming the first Associate nation to host the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and also play in the global showpiece event. From October 17-21, cricket fever took over the sultanate with thousands of expatriates from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, along with few hundred Omanis, making a beeline to watch the T20 World Cup games.
It was the first time that Oman was hosting a cricket event of this magnitude. An estimated 100mn TV audience across the globe watched the opening ceremony of the T20 World Cup in Oman that was held under the patronage of H H Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham al Said, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth. Also in attendance were few Royal Family members, ministers, Indian cricket board (BCCI) chief Sourav Ganguly, International Cricket Council (ICC) Acting CEO Geoff Allardyce, and other dignitaries.
A total of six matches between Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Oman were played on three match days, and while OC put in Herculean efforts to ensure a successful World Cup, one of the keys to the hosts’ all round success was the catering services during the event.
Oman have been long known for their hospitality and OC went to great lengths to boost that reputation as they joined hands with one of Oman’s best-known services solutions company – Renaissance Services. A total of 20,000 meals were served during the event that included 9,560 meals in a box while buffet services catered to 10,440 people.
Packed meals were served for 21 different groups that included volunteers, ground staff, security staff and others while buffets was organised for 16 different groups. Nearly 13 tonnes of food was served, including 4.3 tonnes of packed meals and 8.7 tonnes in buffets.
The international cuisines served included continental, Arabic, Asian, Chinese, Indian and Italian among others. And Renaissance Services, which bagged the contract, took pride in bringing in a lot of in-country value (ICV) to the event – something Adil Bahwan, Renaissance Services COO, was quite proud of.
In an exclusive chat with Muscat Daily, Bahwan said, “We just do not represent a company, we represent Oman as a country when we are part of such a prestigious sports events. It was an honour to be associated with Oman Cricket and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
“We have the skill and the experience to be involved with such big projects and have successfully managed to do it during the 2010 Muscat Asian Beach Games when nearly 4,500 athletes, officials and volunteers from 45 different nationalities attended.”
Bahwan pointed out that the company managed to bring in 63 per cent ICV during this event while also maintaining a good safety record during the whole operations.
Being a company that has more than three decades of experience in catering, Bahwan said, “ICC Men’s T20 World Cup was a big challenge as we had to supply different meals and serve different audiences, including the teams’ officials and players who were under a strict bio-bubble. To ensure the health protocols and provide meals for players and staff at the venue during the match days was quite a task and we are glad we could do it.”
Ahead of the World Cup, Oman Cricket hired an experienced hospitality consultant in Shafaque Ahsan, whose role was to manage the catering and hospitality affairs during the tournament.
Ahsan said, “We had very less time to arrange a top-class event like this. I was hired in July but due to travel restrictions, I could work remotely till I arrived in September. With time running out, it was paramount to make the right choice of a vendor and we are happy that we could get Renaissance Services on board.
“They met the highest benchmark of the ICC and also offered the famous Omani cuisine with top-class hospitality services. I knew that they have the infrastructure and capability to handle such huge operations as I have worked in Oman in the past.”
Bahwan further said that a 220-strong staff was dedicated for the event – 100 employed at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground for service delivery and 120 involved in food preparation, packaging and delivery.
A total of 12,000 man hours were logged in during the World Cup matches, 15 exclusive vehicles were used to transport food covering a total distance of nearly 7,500km.
2.5 tonnes of rice
1.5 tonnes of chicken
1.5 tonnes of vegetables
1 tonne of fish
250 kg mutton