Sri Lanka to support Afghanistan cricket development
Sri Lanka have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) to support the development of cricket in Afghanistan.
The Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa was visited by his Afghanistan counterpart Hamid Karzai, who also brought along Dr Noor Mohammad Murad, the ACB chief executive, as part of the delegation.
The two countries signed four MOUs, including a "Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Sports" by Mahindananda Aluthgamage, the Sri Lankan Minister of Sports, and by Amina Safi Afzali, Afghanistan's Minister of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled.
"Afghanistan is keen to benefit from opportunities in Sri Lanka for our youth in terms of education and training," Karzai said, going on to stress the areas in which Afghanistan were keen on seeking Sri Lanka's assistance. He mentioned the possibility of Sri Lankan coaches providing support for Afghanistan's cricket team.
Afghanistan cricket has improved significantly over the last couple of years. Apart from securing berths in the 2015 World Cup and the upcoming 2014 World T20, Afghanistan also put up a spirited performance in the recently concluded Asia Cup, where they pulled off an upset against the hosts Bangladesh. Afghanistan also managed a win against Australia in the 2014 Under-19 World Cup in the UAE.
"The agreement with Sri Lanka comes at just the right time for Afghanistan. Over this year we will be preparing for the World Cup 2015 and every bit of support is immensely important," Noor Mohammad said. "As Mohammad Nabi said, we are working hard to learn from the Test playing nations. Sri Lanka has a strong presence at the moment in the cricketing world and they can offer us really valuable support.
"We are strongly committed to raising our performance to their level. Afghans have a dogged determination developed over years of hard times. It is this that has brought us so far, against all odds, in such a short time. It will carry us onward and upward over coming years."