June 24, 2003

Afghanistan awarded Associate Membership by ACC

Wisden CricInfo staff

The Afghanistan Cricket Federation (ACF), which is already an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), has been awarded Associate Membership of the Asian Cricket Council during the ACC's June 14 meeting in London.

In a message Venu Ramadass of the ACC said: "Firstly, we would like to congratulate Afghanistan Cricket Board [Federation] for being granted Associate membership of the Asian Cricket Council. We hope both parties will work together for the betterment of cricket in Afghanistan."

The ACF is active in building up cricket in Afghanistan after the recent war, and has already sent teams to play in two of Pakistan's domestic competitions. They had applied for the ACC membership and also requested permission to send a team to the 2003 Youth Asia Cup, which starts on July 15 in Karachi, Pakistan.

The ACC has regretted ACF's participation in the U19 tournament due to time constraints saying, "We are sorry to say that approval is not being given due to a number of reasons. Approval could only be given after the ACC AGM in London and the time frame is too short for the team's preparation. The allocation, tournament arrangements and the match schedules are being done to accommodate 10 teams and by having an additional team at this time nearer to the tournament, will not be feasible."

All is not lost for the keen Afghan cricketers as there is a U17 tournament coming up later this year and the ACC has allowed the Afghan team to play, "Asian Cricket Council has welcomed Afghanistan's participation in the U17 Junior Asia Cup 2003 in India, which will be held at the end of the year."

This tournament will add to ACF's plans for more international cricket as they are already scheduling a visit to India to play 10 matches in August with a tour to UAE in October to play during the UAE national cricket season.

The Afghan team has also been invited to tour Pakistan again for the Quaid-e-Azam Grade-II domestic tournament. They have already played in Pakistan's Grade-II tournaments in 2001 and 2002.

Some more help for the ACF is on the way with ACC's development officer, Pakistan ex-Test cricketer Iqbal Sikander promising to visit Afghanistan soon to help set up a proper cricket infrastructure.

On Monday, while announcing that the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) will help ACC set up regional cricket academies in Dubai, Malaysia and Nepal he had some encouraging words for Afghan cricket.

"Since Afghanistan has now been given membership by the ACC, the idea is to move quickly and provide them timely assistance in the development of the game."

Cricket was first taken up by Afghani refugee youth who had fled to Pakistan after the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the early 1980's and carried on playing till they could return home 10 years later - more than sufficient time to inculcate cricket culture. The ACF was founded in 1995 and in 2001 they were made an Affiliate Member by the ICC.