Afghanistan December 15, 2005

Surviving the Taliban

Cricket was the sport of refugees and survived war and the rule of the Taliban

Cricket was the sport of refugees and survived war and the rule of the Taliban. Azam Khan tells Peter Frawley of Afghan cricket's bright future. But the problems they faced were considerable:

One day in August 2001, during an inter-provincial tournament in Kabul, the Taliban's vice and virtue police turned up at a game in their 4x4 pick-up vehicles and some other cars surrounded the ground. We had forgotten to go to prayer. All the players and spectators were dispersed. Some people were arrested, including two players. They were imprisoned for about a week and missed the rest of the matches.

On another occasion, the then president of the Afghanistan Olympic Committee, Maulawi Qalamuddin, told us that the Taliban Grand Council wanted to ban cricket, which they considered to be an American game. We managed to convince the Taliban that cricket was not American and that it was in fact very similar to thope danda.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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