Afghanistan news March 26, 2011

Hassan excited at MCC opportunity

ESPNcricinfo staff

Hamid Hassan, the Afghanistan fast bowler, has welcomed the opportunity to play for the MCC against county champions Nottinghamshire in a four-day game in Abu Dhabi. Hassan and offspinner Mohammad Nabi are the two Afghanistan players selected in the MCC squad.

"It's quite a big opportunity: for my country, for Mohammad Nabi and for me to play for the MCC," Hassan told the Independent. "They are a big name in cricket history, so we're happy, very happy, to play this game for them against the county champions.

"So this is quite a big opportunity for me, it can make my name but also my country's name. There are other good players in Afghanistan, they can do it in the future as well, that is why we are very excited."

Afghanistan have enjoyed a rapid rise in world cricket over the past couple of years: they won the ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers in Dubai in February last year and qualified for the World Twenty20 in the West Indies later that year. They beat Pakistan in the Asian Games in Guangzhou in November and won the silver medal after they lost to Bangladesh in the final. They also beat Scotland to secure the ICC Intercontinental Cup in December.

"Sport is the only thing to bring the people together," Hassan said. "We are all from different places and provinces, but all together we make a name for Afghanistan. It is our country, we have to play for the team, not for the province and not for the city. We are very keen and very happy to make a name."

The ICC's decision to reduce the number of teams from 14 to 10 for the next 50-over World Cup has come under criticism from several quarters and Hassan said he was not in favour of it. "I think it's not a good idea," he said. "People will not take an interest. If you give a chance to these teams - Afghanistan, Ireland, Netherlands - if they play against the biggest teams then maybe they can improve. If Afghanistan had the chance, 10 ODIs against a big team, maybe they would win three or four."

However, Hamid hoped that Afghanistan would continue to impress at the international level, especially at the Twenty20 level, which he believed was a format suited to his team's strengths. "Twenty20 is very funny cricket. No one knows what will happen, maybe you can beat any team in T20. Last year we played India and South Africa, it was a fun time and we learnt a lot from both teams."

The ultimate dream, however, is to one day play Test cricket. "Of course, we hope to play Test cricket. Three or four international stadiums are being built. We have good academies and turf wickets in Jalalabad, Kabul and Kandahar. Next year everything will be ready for cricket games."