Wednesday 5 March 2014 

Comment - The Rise Of The Afghans

Afghanistan players celebrate
Afghanistan's rise to prominence as a cricketing power is an incredible story
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

"From nowhere to everywhere" will describe the phenomenal journey of Afghanistan cricket, a country which went through three decades of war, and being labeled as the most dangerous country to travel to.

Beating Australia and Sri Lanka in the recently concluded Under-19 Cricket World Cup puts feathers in the caps of every Afghan people.

If that was not enough beating Bangladesh in the ongoing Asia Cup is definitely the proudest moment for the Afghan cricket team.

The rise from Division 5 of World Cricket League in May 2008 to qualify for the Cricket World Cup 2015 is no mean achievement keeping in mind that the national team was formed as late as on 2001.

Like every Asian nation, cricket was first played in Afghanistan by British troops way back in 1839 but that did not leave any lasting legacy. It was not until the late 1970s that cricket started to become popular when Afghan refugees who fled to Pakistan started playing the game & loved it - and that is how Afghanistan Cricket Federation was formed by refugees in Pakistan in 1995.

The current captain of Afghanistan, Mohammad Nabi, also learned his trade related to cricket as a war refugee in Pakistan’s streets and it is heartening to hear that cricket is loved and liked by each and every child across the country.

Pace bowling, which is a rarity in the current cricketing world is not so for Afghani team who have a handful of bowlers clocking 85mph consistently.

2013 was a year dominated by the Afghanistan cricket team where they won 26 out of 28 games against Associates and Affiliates in 2013 (excluding Ireland and Test-playing nations).

They also took a T20 match to the final over against Pakistan but that was the only match they played against a Test-playing nation in 2013.

The board has been trying to find Full Members willing to play against them but without any success.

"For the Afghan people cricket is the only sport approved by the Taliban. Not only merely sport for them, it is arguably the one and only thing that brings some happiness to their lives."

Of late there are some positive signs; Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka are very close to agreeing to Afghanistan's repeated requests to arrange games.

They may not be as professional or as consistent as Ireland yet but it pays to check the history books before concluding anything.

Consider the history of Afghanistan as a country, the crises the people have gone through over the last half a century. Then, from nowhere, emerges a team who showed the courage to raise against the odds to play the game at the highest level.

The cricket community, being very small, cannot afford to lose these emerging nations from the cricket world and should help in whatever way they can.

For the Afghan people cricket is the only sport approved by the Taliban. Not only merely sport for them, it is arguably the one and only thing that brings some happiness to their lives.

© Cricket World 2014

An Evening With Aggers &... 2014

An Evening With Aggers &... 2014

22nd September: An Evening With Boycott & Aggers - Southampton Mayflower
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25th September: An Evening With Boycott & Aggers - York Barbican
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