November 23, 2007

Afghanistan

Afghans unite in passion for cricket

Martin Williamson





© The Daily Telegraph
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The Daily Telegraph’s Tom Coghlan reports from Kabul on how cricket is taking a hold in Afghanistan, so much so that he says it is becoming a national obsession.
Cricket has seized the popular imagination in Afghanistan since 2001, a country where the game was unknown until waves of refugees fleeing 30 years of fighting picked it up in camps along the Pakistan border. Earlier this month Afghanistan's fledgling national side came from nowhere to win the Asia Cricket Council's Twenty20 Cup in Kuwait.

Bolstered by that success, the Afghan Cricket Federation is moving to gain entry to the next ICC World Twenty20.

Subtleties of guile and tactic have yet to take hold in the Afghan game, which seems to appeal more to the famously warlike Afghan temperament. Defensive shots are regarded with disdain.

"This is like being in Helmand," muttered an onlooker at the training session, ducking for cover as a ball winged overhead with the trajectory of a tracer bullet, the first in a sustained bombardment.

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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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Posted by The Truth on (December 7, 2007, 6:33 GMT)

Arjun, Afhganistan are an extremely strong side and can confirm this having played against them in the ACC tournament held last year in Malaysia. Of the sides you mention in your e-mail only, UAE & Hong Kong would give them a real game! Most of the players have played first class cricket in Pakistan.

Posted by Arjun Chaudhuri on (November 29, 2007, 6:30 GMT)

Perhaps, next time round the Indian Cricket League can consider featuring a combined ICC Associates team and one ICC Affiliates team in its Twenty20 tournament, as also in its proposed One-day tournament.

India—BCCI, this time—did experiment with teams from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe etc. participating in its otherwise inter-zonal domestic first-class tournament, Duleep Trophy, with moderate success.

Pakistan can well consider including an Afghan Awesomes team in its highly successful and competitive domestic Twenty20 tournament.

In fact, all the four Asian Test playing nations, which are stone’s throw from Afghanistan (not quite!) can also conduct cricket exchange programs, especially involving school cricketers, with Afghanistan.

Afghanistan should start taking on teams from Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, UAE, for example on a regular basis. Frequent match practice, is after all, the best practice, and provides the ideal platform to graduate to the big league. A sound and systematized cricketing infrastructure is the need of the hour for Afghanistan, and big fours can certainly help it in this regard big time in a big way.

Posted by Imran A Javed on (November 28, 2007, 12:20 GMT)

Great news for cricket.I agree with Arjun that that Afghanistan should take advantage of its location and would like to add that we be together (i.e India and Pakistan) and should help Afghanistan be amongst cricket playing nations.

Posted by Arjun Chaudhuri on (November 28, 2007, 6:54 GMT)

Afghanistan emerging champions at the Asia Cricket Council's Twenty20 Cup is certainly an encouraging news for a country for long bombarded with wars, battles and skirmishes, and other sorts of fights and man-made disturbances. This is a great news indeed especially in view of the fact that the last time I remember the country making news in sports was when spectators stood up spontaneously to cheer an Afghan runner entering the stadium to finish last in an Olympic marathon.

Their Twenty20 triumph is also a victory of the format itself, which encourages seemingly rank outsiders to fancy their chances against more pedigree teams.

News is that the Afghans are enthusiastic about Indian movies. If they can pick up something from the other craze of India—cricket, they can indeed find a realistic chance of being a surprise package at the next ICC Twenty20 World Cup. Their south-eastern neighbours, Pakistan can also provide them a good learning curve. Cricketwise, Afghanistan is lucky to be advantageously located!

Posted by Fat_Bulborbs on (November 24, 2007, 3:03 GMT)

It would be great to see Afghanistan become a cricketing power (and it'd be great to see if their team really is as awesome as they claim it is).

Posted by Laksh on (November 23, 2007, 10:38 GMT)

Great news, Would love to see Afghanistan as cricketing power soon & they surely deserve the place... Other nations should learn from Afghans...

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Williamson
Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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