Recommended reading April 13, 2009

Tales of an Afghan, the Basin, and a poet

Some recommended reading on ESPNcricinfo over the past weeke

It's not unusual for sport to provide cheer at times of misery. The rise of its cricket team has been one of most uplifting stories to have emerged from Afghanistan in recent times. Will Luke, who went to South Africa to cover the ICC World Cup Qualifiers, brought us the extraordinary story of Raees Ahmadzai.

As with many good stories, this one just happened. Will spotted Raees in the press box adjacent to the one he was in, chatting to the lone Afghan journalist at the tournament, an ardent cricket fan, who works for the BBC's Pashtun service. "So I seized my chance," Will says, "not knowing who he was. Fortunately he spoke eloquent English and, even more fortunately, he knew and loved Cricinfo."

The piece wrote itself. "There wasn't much cricket chat, and perhaps that helped me. I was talking to a human being instead of a sportsman trained in the art of replying to the media, which is nothing short of a disease spreading through the modern game.

"Afghanistan had already lost two, maybe three, wickets and he was due in at No. 6, but he didn't care. Instead, he made sure I was spelling Kacha Gari correctly, and scribbled other notes down. He was as keen as I was to tell his story, and in modern sports journalism how often does that come about?"

Halfway through the interview, Will even had a title in his head - "Cloth for balls, shoes for stumps". The piece took about an hour to write the next morning. "He was direct, honest, witty and generous. The piece was all there, already written. A stroke of luck really."

We are glad we sent Will out there. Thanks to Martin Willamson for arguing the case.

Sidharth Monga was in terrific form throughout India¹s tour of New Zealand. He was both prolific and able, every once in while, to produce a piece that was off-the beaten track. He also sent in diaries through the series, which provided glimpses into a touring cricket writer's life. Before he went missing in New Zealand, he sent us this one.

Out of nowhere, South Africa has landed two high-profile cricket tournaments. Peter Roebuck, now a part-time resident of the country, writes that South Africa won because it had the interest and the infrastructure, the space and the desire. But while the gains for South Africa have been substantial, he argues, the cost to the game, and the world, has been high.

I am amazed that Suresh Menon has managed keep his excellent column on cricket literature running for as long as he has. That's because he has not only read every cricket book worth reading, but even the more obscure ones. His latest is about Edmund Blunden, the English poet, one of many men of letters to have had a more than passing acquaintance with cricket.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on June 17, 2009, 5:48 GMT

    Afghanistan got a much better coverage (by Cricinfo) vis-a-vis the other upcoming associate nations.

  • testli5504537 on April 15, 2009, 16:14 GMT

    thanks for is the best helpul with afghans cricke team .we proud of our cricket team

  • testli5504537 on April 14, 2009, 21:02 GMT

    thanks sambit

  • testli5504537 on April 13, 2009, 11:18 GMT

    First of all thanx to sambit nd cricinfo....for supporting Afghans and afghan cricket team......hope Afghanistan will do more better to reach World cup 2011 inshallah.......nd Mr.Sambit in Afghanistan you will find thousands of the stories like this one of heroic people but hidden.......Long live Afghan Cricket team....ameen

  • testli5504537 on April 13, 2009, 8:48 GMT

    I really thank Cricinfo for covering Afghan cricket news and writing beautiful aricles about Afghan cricket team. Thanks alot Sambit!

  • testli5504537 on April 13, 2009, 7:03 GMT

    I proud of my dear Afghan players, which till don’t have any ground for practice or race, but they beat Ireland which is an European country and have every things. Tal di wi Afghanistan, aw sar lwari di wi zamoz Atal lobghari

  • testli5504537 on April 13, 2009, 4:38 GMT

    Sambit, I think may be you could have mentioned Sriram Dayanand's "Ubuntu" in your INBOX too. I thought it was an excellent article. Keep going.

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