In 1987, aged 12 Taj Malik Alam set-up the Afghan Cricket Club. Its headquarters were a refugee camp in Pakistan and the team played with tennis balls, sticks and plastic bags on a rutted, dusty piece of scrubland. But Taj, and his two brothers, had only one childhood dream: to represent Afghanistan in an international cricket match. Out of the Ashes is the remarkable story of Taj, and his team mates, and their incredible journey from obscurity to the groomed grass pitches of elite cricket.
Tim Albone spent the last two and a half years travelling with the Afghan national cricket team. Given unlimited access, he was welcomed into their lives, invited into their homes, taken on the team bus and even let into the changing rooms during team talks. He tracked them from war-ravaged Kabul to peaceful, parochial Jersey for their first World Cup qualifier to find a unique, insider’s perspective on how the drive, dedication and, occasionally, downright madness of one man on a mission can inspire others.
Documenting the transformation of a group of men seeking triumph from the rubble of their country, Out of the Ashes is more than a book about cricket. It is a fascinating insight into how sport can unify and inspire but, most importantly, how hopes and dreams can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Inspirational and moving, Out of the Ashes is testament to one of the most remarkable stories in modern sport.
Tim Albone is the former Times and Sunday Times correspondent in Afghanistan. In 2008 he was shortlisted for the Bayeux-Calvados War Correspondent Award. He spent two years with unlimited access to the squad during their remarkable effort to reach the World Cup.
His film of the experience, also called Out of the Ashes, was released in January 2011 in cinemas across the UK and appeared on BBC Four’s Storyville. It received widespread critical acclaim, including:
“A wonderful film, provocative in its hopefulness” Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland
“Filmic gold…remarkable” Sunday Times
“I loved this film” Robert Fisk, The Independent