Lack of facilities a worry April 21, 2009

Afghans return home to heroes welcome

Cricinfo staff

The Afghanistan team has returned home to a warm welcome after they gained ODI status at the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa.

Although the team fell one win short of gaining a place at the 2011 World Cup, hundreds of supporters turned up at the airport in Kabul when the players arrived home. Members of parliament and Afghan officials were also among the welcoming party.

But the celebrations were against the backdrop of there being almost no pitches or nets for playing the game in the country. "We want the ordinary people to pray for us because we don't have proper facilities," said batsman Karim Khan. "We want just one thing from the government, that is the building of sports grounds for us, especially in those cities where cricket is played a lot, such as Jalalabad, Khost and Kandahar."

The lack of facilities means that while the team have full ODI status, they cannot play any home matches. For that to happen, they would need to have a ground which meets strict ICC requirements, and as it is they haven't even got a grass pitch. Even were they to meet those conditions, it is highly unlikely any country would risk travelling to Afghanistan given the current security concerns there.

It is likely that the team will lead a nomadic existence, playing away matches only while it looks to establish a permanent "home" in another country, with the Middle East the likely venue.