Afghanistan, cricket’s slumdog millionaire

As a sports journalist, you often hear the lament, “If we had more facilities, more exposure (read foreign trips) or at least more support from the media and the government….”
To an extent it is true especially for sports other than cricket in the subcontinent. But the rise of Afghanistan and their getting one-day status in just FIVE year’s time from embracing the sport speaks volumes of their grit and courage more than anything else. Talent counts but more than anything, sport is about determination, a quality well known among the inhabitants across the North West Frontier – unfortunately for all the wrong reasons off late.
But while the Taliban banned the sport in the mid 1990s and have now shifted their focus to shooting ladies even as they spread their tentacles into Lahore, the heart of Pakistan, the cricketers have provided some respite.
Even as the cricketing world was reeling under the impact of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, the Afghans were training hard in Peshawar, the most affected area in Pakistan. And they worked their way up the hard way across the many Divisions created by the ICC despite the fact that they have been threatened of dire consequences when they return home.
In contrast, we have the United Arab Emirates which is fast pitching for every tournament under the sun to be held at its ‘world-class venues’ at Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
But when it mattered, the UAE were found wanting. They failed at crucial moments losing to lowly opponents, accentuating the importance of the Afghans’ exploits further in the path to their recent glory.
It could have been so easy to drop their guard against the likes of Hong Kong, United States, Malaysia and Nepal among the host of dangerous floaters among Associate members. And all these countries have better facilities than Afghanistan. Well done!

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