February 14, 2010

Cricket and war

Tail-enders had pro dreams

Jamie Alter

Several members of the Afghanistan Under-19 team wanted to stay in New Zealand after the recent World Cup to become professional cricketers in the hope they could support their families in their war-torn homeland. Former New Zealand player Mike Shrimpton, who took on a temporary coaching role with the Afghans, tells the Herald on Sunday that most days they rang home to check on their families and it often made for an uncomfortable environment.

"Three or four players lived in the same district where the Taleban gunmen and suicide bombers entered [while the World Cup was on]. It didn't help it was in the news here with our SAS officers involved in the heart of the capital Kabul. A number of the boys were affected. It became clear one night from talking to the captain [Noor-ul-Haq] that his family was in the basement of their house and there was a gunfight outside. It was a difficult time not knowing what was happening."

Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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