Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

Can Afghanistan qualify for the 2011 One-Day Cricket World Cup?

By Julian Worker     Apr 3, 2009 in Sports
A good news story about Afghanistan is often hard to find, yet there may be one close at hand. The Asian nation's cricket team is on the verge of qualifying for the next World Cup in the one-day version of the game.
Afghanistan are one win away from progressing to the next stage in the qualifying tournament for the 2011 World Cup. We’re talking cricket and Afghanistan are a team whose rise has been meteoric. A year ago they were in Division 5 of the cricketing world, but wins at tournaments in Jersey, Tanzania, and Argentina has seen Afghanistan catapulted to the edge of the big time.
The first round of the qualifying tournament for the 2011 World Cup has two groups containing six teams each and the top four from each group qualify for the second round or Super 8. Results against fellow qualifying group teams are carried forward to the Super 8. Afghanistan are one of the 6 teams in Group B. Having already seen off Denmark and Bermuda in consecutive days, the Afghans now stand on the edge of qualifying with just one win needed against either Holland, UAE, or Kenya the remaining teams in Group B. However, Afghanistan will be trying to win them all. When the Super 8 is complete the top four teams qualify for the semi-finals and, more importantly, also secure a place at the 2011 World Cup in Pakistan. The top six teams in the Super 8 also get One Day International status for the next four years and receive increased funding from the International Cricket Council (ICC), a big consideration for a team that plays most of its games away from home.
Cricket was first played in Afghanistan in the mid 19th century when British troops were in the country. However, it was more than 100 years before cricket began to flourish thanks to the Soviet Union’s invasion in 1979. Pashtun refuges in the north-east crossed the border into Pakistan and learned to play the game in the streets. When the Soviets left, the Afghanistan Cricket Federation was formed in 1995 and became an affiliate member of the ICC in 2001. The American invasion of 2001 prompted more relocation and the cricket team’s rise really began. Afghanistan became a member of the Asian Cricket Council in 2003 and this organisation has been funding the players' travel and accommodation and paying the coach's wages. The other Asian test match playing nations have all encouraged Afghanistan’s improvement by providing them with training camps and competitive fixtures. The rest of the cricket world has played a part too – Afghanistan easily beat a team captained by former England skipper Mike Gatting - who scored zero - by 171 runs in a friendly game and this result prompted a tour of England, where Afghanistan beat the second-string teams of some of the English counties. Two Afghan players then spent twelve months on the ground staff at Lord's, the home of cricket. They both now play for the national team.
Although the cricket team is mainly Pashtun, people from other tribes and provinces have started to play the game, spurred on by the success of the national team. If cricket brings people from different parts of Afghanistan together, it can only be good for the country and may bring peace to a place that badly needs at least one symbol of national identity. Sport is one of the few things that can do this.
More about Cricket, Afghanistan, World Cup, Pashtun, Asia
More news from
Sports Video
Latest News
Top News