November 12, 2007

Afghanistan

MCC send Fleming to Afghanistan

Will Luke
Matthew Fleming portrait, April 2002
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Matthew Fleming, the former Kent and England allrounder, will travel to Afghanistan this week to try to identify ways in which Marylebone Cricket Club can help to further develop the sport in the region.

Fleming, who sits on the main MCC Committee, is being sent by the club to investigate how MCC can strengthen its links with cricket in Afghanistan in accordance with its worldwide remit to help promote the game.

The MCC-Afghanistan relationship began with an historic fixture between the two sides in Mumbai in March 2006, where an MCC team led by former England captain, Mike Gatting, were thrashed by 179 runs. Two members of that successful Afghan team - Hamid Hassan and Mohammad Nabi - subsequently spent time at Lord's as MCC Young Cricketers. In 2007, Hassan - a fast bowler - made history when he became the first Afghan cricketer to play at Lord's, for MCC against Europe.

Speaking ahead of his trip, Fleming said: "Having enjoyed playing cricket for England in Pakistan and Bangladesh, I know the passion that exists for cricket in the region. I'm looking forward to seeing for myself how cricket in Afghanistan is developing, and how MCC can help with this process.

"With my experience in the Armed Forces [he served as an officer in the Royal Green Jackets], I am all too aware of the effects a conflict has on a country's people. If the sport can help to become a positive, motivating factor for the increasingly cricket-loving population of Afghanistan, that can only be a good thing."

MCC's secretary & chief executive, Keith Bradshaw, said: "Developing cricket worldwide is a core remit of MCC, and it's one we take very seriously. Matthew is the perfect ambassador for us to send out to Afghanistan. With his knowledge of the region, and of course his cricketing experience, he'll be able to investigate the ways in which the club can demonstrably help to develop cricket in the country."

Fleming's visit to Afghanistan has been co-ordinated by Nick Lockwood, Counter Narcotics and Rule of Law, at the British Embassy in Kabul. The four-day trip will culminate on Sunday, November 18, with a visit to the National Training Camp at the Afghanistan National Cricket Academy.

The sport's popularity in Afghanistan has surged since many of the refugees who fled from the country in the early 1980s, after the Soviet invasion, started to return from Pakistan - where they saw the game and started to play and follow it.

Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Arjun Chaudhuri on (November 30, 2007, 8:54 GMT)

Hamid Hassan must be on top of the moon at having got the opportunity to play at Lord’s.

Especially with the influence of television and neighbours India and Pakistan, the game can spread like wildfire in Afghanistan, as has been the case with Bangladesh. Cricket culture being thus taken care of, professional guidance can help develop a sound cricket infrastructure in the Afghanistan. And soon, we can find Hamid representing his country at the Lord’s.

Over to you, Matthew. You can contribute much more to Afghan cricket, than you ever got the opportunity to do to English international cricket.

Posted by Shoaib Shaian Timory on (November 15, 2007, 7:40 GMT)

Good to hear that. And it has its effects on the cricket in Afghanistan. Wish we participate in ICC too very soon.

Posted by Kio on (November 15, 2007, 5:32 GMT)

Great to hear that finally somebody has noticed the talent and potential we have. I am sure that Afghanistan will produce a test playing team in the next ten years. Visits by people like Mr. Fleming will only help this process and encourage our cricket authorities.

Posted by humair khan on (November 14, 2007, 5:45 GMT)

It's good to hear that British are aiding Afghans with cricket.hope we can see a bright star from afghan representing his country and making them proud. i am from Pakistan and we have al ot of afghan refugees who hit ball as good as Afridi and quickies as good as Imran Khan.

GO MATT GO !!

Posted by AM Banks on (November 13, 2007, 21:34 GMT)

Excellent news. Afghanistan has long needed some professional help. Taj Malik and the Team will, I'm sure, be very receptive to all constructive comment. They have just won the ACC 20/20 Cup (albeit shared), but have the ability to go a lot further, especially if given sound advice. All the best, Matt. Oh, and enjoy the tea on the Embassy lawns - it's normally pretty good!

Posted by Spinghar on (November 13, 2007, 17:57 GMT)

It's really great to hear....Afghanistan is one of the country which rapidly growing talent in cricket comparing to other countries! we hope a lot help from ICC as well

Posted by Sulaiman on (November 13, 2007, 8:37 GMT)

Its a great news both for Cricket and for our country Afghanistan. I believe that youngsters in Afghanistan have a huge potential. This noble cause would not only help in the game's growth but would also mobilize the economy of the war-torn country. I m sure you (Fleming) would be welcomed whole-heatedly. Wish you Best of luck

Posted by Aliahmad on (November 13, 2007, 7:09 GMT)

Great to hear the news from you about Afghanistan. Hope fully shall say well come to Afghanistan Matthew Fleming, we have much expectation from you her that you will offer mager rule here in Afghanistan for the cricket .this could be more better if you come once to the province Nangarhar . wish for the Matthew Fleming good trip

Posted by raj on (November 12, 2007, 13:54 GMT)

Interestingly, Mat Fleming is related to Ian Fleming (producer of James Bond Movies)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Luke
Assistant editor Will opted against a lifetime of head-bangingly dull administration in the NHS, where he had served for two years. In 2005 came a break at Cricinfo where he slotted right in as a ferociously enthusiastic tea drinker and maker, with a penchant for using "frankly" and "marvellous". He also runs The Corridor, a cricket blog where he can be found ranting and raving about all things - some even involving the sport. He is a great-great nephew of Sir Jack Newman, the former Wellingtonian bowler who took two wickets at 127 apiece for New Zealand.

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