Thursday 16 January 2014 

Afghanistan Get Record-Breaking Welcome

Crowds greet the Afghanistan cricket team
Crowds turned out in their thousands to welcome the Afghanistan cricket team to Khost province
© Afghanistan Cricket Board
 

The Afghanistan cricket team received a record-breaking welcome as 30,000 people turned out in Khost, one of the country's smallest and less stable provinces.

The team, which has recently qualified for both the ICC World Twenty20 later this year in Bangladesh, and the 2015 World Cup, was invited by Governer Abdul Jabur Naimi.

An estimated 30,000 people arrived at the airport and then the cricket stadium to greet the team, breaking a record as no previous known event has seen so many people attend.

Khost, in east Afghanistan, borders Pakistan has a population of more than half a million people and still experiences insurgent problems.

"We expected a big welcome," Dr Noor Mohammad Murad, CEO of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), said, "but no one had any idea that this number of people would come. 

"It was a tremendous surprise. The number and enthusiasm of the people, young and old, shows just how much cricket has developed in Afghanistan.

"It also showed us again the incredible potential of cricket to bring people together in a positive, united and peaceful way - even in a province that is still regarded as dangerous."

Governer Naimi welcomed the team, ACB officials, and thanked them for joining him.

"In this remote rural province, which still has some troubles, we really appreciate the effort the ACB and the National Team have made to come and be with us," he said.

"Your achievements have made sporting history and we are proud to be able to celebrate those achievements with you. As you can see, the people of Khost love you all."

He then promised the crowd that he would press on with plans to construct a cricket stadium in the province.

Captain Mohammad Nabi added that he could hardly believe the numbers of people that had turned out.

"When we arrived and saw the crowds of people we just couldn’t believe it," he said.

"It was wonderful to see so many happy faces because of the game we all love."

© Cricket World 2014