We are heading home with our heads held high
I believe we are heading home to Afghanistan with our heads held high despite losing our second consecutive match of the tournament.
Although we are all disappointed with our batting against South Africa, I think we can be proud of the fact that we did ourselves justice in the field with a really good bowling display.
South Africa has one of the best batting line-ups in the world and so to restrict them like we did was an incredible effort and I really enjoyed the challenge of bowling to them. I think it was one of my best ever spells of bowling in my career!
Graeme Smith and a few of the other players came up to me at the end of the game and congratulated me on how I bowled which was really nice of them. To take three wickets in four overs was such a great feeling and I really enjoyed the occasion – I just couldn’t stop smiling throughout the whole match.
I also can’t believe how well I batted – I think it was my best ever score in a Twenty20 match. My favourite shot was my six off Albie Morkel. I thought I would surprise him by trying to hit him straight over his head and I don’t think I could have connected with it better.
Looking back on the event, I think we have shown that we have the potential to compete against some of the Full Members, and it is just a shame that we didn’t qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 as I think with another year to improve we could have surprised a few teams.
I have already been asked a few times what my favourite moment of the event was. Although there was lots to choose from I think getting Jacques Kallis, who I think is one of the greatest players in the history of the game, with my first ball of the match is a moment that I will remember forever.
So what do we need to improve? We all obviously need to get more experience at playing against the best teams in the world on a more regular basis. We have shown what we have been able to do in these two matches and with more regular exposure to top quality batters and bowlers then we can get better.
We also need to continue to play more cricket, in all formats of the game, and so while our focus in the past few months has very much been on Twenty20 cricket, we want to go and develop our games playing four-day cricket. We are currently top of the table in the ICC Intercontinental Cup, the first-class competition for the leading Associate and Affiliate, which has been really good for us in improving our games, and it is one of our priorities to win that tournament this year.
To try and become the best non-Test playing country in the world we need to prove that we can win titles on a regular basis and not just in the Twenty20 format of the game. That is why we will all be taking our preparation for the ICC World Cricket League Division 1, which is in early July in Amsterdam, very seriously. A lot of our opponents will be preparing for the ICC Cricket World Cup so we need to show that we are capable of matching those teams in the 50-over game.
It has been a wonderful adventure to come to the Caribbean, play teams like India and South Africa, score some runs and take some wickets, and I am certain this isn’t the last you have heard of Afghanistan cricket!