Afghanistan news May 3, 2009

Lorgat impressed by young Afghans

Cricinfo staff

The ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat has lauded the progress shown by Afghanistan, whose senior side recently qualified for one-day international status, and whose juniors this week reached the final of the Asian Cricket Council Elite Cup, a precursor to the Under-19 World Cup qualifiers later this year.

Afghanistan Under-19s were beaten in the final by Hong Kong, but Lorgat was impressed with what he saw.

"It was a good tournament and very impressive to see such young talent on display from all 10 teams taking part," he said. "We have all been impressed by the Afghanistan team, which progressed from Division 5 of the World Cricket League to coming fifth at the World Cup Qualifiers in less than a year. It is particularly heartening to see the next generation of Afghan cricketers performing so well. By beating defending champion Nepal in the semi-final, I think the players have really come of age and we can expect big things from them in the future."

In the final, before an enthusiastic crowd of 3000, Afghanistan reached 215 for 9 with Asgher Hotak (70) and Murad Ali (68) impressing. In reply, however, Hong Kong romped home with three overs to spare thanks to 94 from James Atkinson.

"There was a great atmosphere for the final with so many Afghans in the crowd to support their team," Lorgat said. "Events like this don't happen without considerable planning and hard work from so many volunteers. It shows to me the marvellous spirit of cricket when people give up their free time and devote it to the game in this way.

"I would like to congratulate Hong Kong on this victory and I wish them and Afghanistan the best of luck in the Under-19 World Cup Qualifiers later this year. If the Under-19s from Afghanistan show the same willingness to learn as their senior counterparts, they will be a very useful side by then."