From the dirty and troubled refugee camps with the dangers of ones life being always on the danger, in a country where Taliban is very well alive and kicking and ready to execute anyone who doesn’t obey their orders, for people who are struggling in utmost poverty and are not able to eat 3 meals a day, Afghanistan cricket’s mind – boggling rise to the pinnacle of world cricket, the International Twenty20 World Cup in West Indies to compete with 12 other test playing nations (except Ireland) is spectacular to say the least.
Afghanistanis don’t play their home games in their own country even today despite the fact that they have a cricket ground built near the soccer stadium in Kabul (the soccer stadium is normally used by Taliban to execute people) due to the situation in the country. Almost all their cricketers have practiced their skill in refugee camps in Pakistan especially Peshawar after their families ran away from their homeland due to the war like situation.
Afghanistan cricket was recognized by the International Cricket Association just 9 yrs ago in 2001. An interesting irony is that this was the year when the US “so called” War on Terror started their. It destroyed the remaining whatever infrastructure they had. In 2008 they were playing in World Cricket League Division 5 against countries like Germany, Vanuatu and Norway (ok guys these countries play cricket too! :P). So you can imagine where they were in 2008. But in the space of less than two years they have got ODI status, just missed qualification for the 50 over World Cup in 2011 by a whisker and won the Twenty20 World Cup qualifying tournament in UAE. Isn’t this a mind – numbing achievement?
Hamid Hassan, one of their leading fast bowlers has famously compared their team to boxing underdog Rocky Balboa. Afghan cricketers today earn 300 dollars a month, a far cry from Mahendra Singh Dhoni whose earning in millions. But their desire and determination to be successful against all odds has taken them to this level and am sure will take them further. Their coach Kabir Khan reminds me of Sharukh Khan and his team of a bunch of no hopers in the film Chak De India who go on to win the World Cup.
Even if Afghanistan fail to win a single match in the World Cup, they deserve to bask in the laurels of reaching this level itself against all odds. You guys rock!