May 1, 2009


Afghanistan hammer Jamie Theakston XI

Will Luke

Afghanistan, the newest ICC country to be inducted into their enjoyably competitive list of one-day nations, have won their first ODI. Well, sort of. That’s what the Afghans will tell you after thumping an English village XI containing names such as Matthew Fleming, the former Kent and England allrounder, and Jamie Theakston. Yes him, off the telly.

© Leslie Knott

Ditchling Cricket Club, captained by Theakston, were walloped by 124 runs at a heavily-secured NATO base in Kabul on a humid and rainy Friday. Afghanistan, who recently and sensationally qualified as a one-day international nation, took great pleasure in smacking six after six out of the compound, as one journalist told Cricinfo. “There were sixes all over the shop,” said Leslie Knott, a film-producer covering Afghanistan’s rise from obscurity. “And then a giant storm came in and blew the tent down.”

Fleming, who was once an officer in the now-redundant Royal Green Jackets, is out in Afghanistan on behalf of MCC, unveiling pitches to local communities, as revealed in Cricinfo’s interview with him this week. "We believe that cricket can change people's lives,” he told AFP. “We just want to give the people who wouldn't necessarily have the opportunity, the opportunity. The challenge for them now is to become more experienced and harness that talent, and that intensity, and enthusiasm."

Theakston, who made 20 out of Ditchling’s thoroughly village 138 for 7, remained benevolent in spite of the hammering. "I think it is important for people to understand there isn't a suicide bomber on every corner... and that Afghans live their lives and do things like play cricket.”

For more information on Leslie Knott's work, and the documentary being made, click here

Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Keywords: Offbeat

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