Cricket Warrior

A legacy of war now used as
a dressing-room

How would you rank Afghanistan in comparison to the other developing countries in Asia?
"Other teams are scared to play us! Their coaches are frightened the players will get hurt. The UAE could invite us but they don’t. We could beat Sri Lanka A and Bangladesh A if given the chance."

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh?!
"Yes. We are not scared of anyone. We can give a good contest to these teams in one-day cricket."

I understand that Afghanistan has played in the second-level of the Quaid-I-Azam Trophy in Pakistan.
"Afghanistan national cricket has participated six times in Pakistan domestic cricket and so far we have won three 3-day matches and 1 limited overs match. We have drawn two 3-day games. Our batsmen Mohammad Nabi and Karim Khan Sadiq made hundreds and medium-pacer Hasti Gul Abid took nine wickets in a match."

Karim Khan Sadiq and
Hasti Gul

How do you select your players?
"My two brothers – Hasti Gul and Karim Khan Sadiq are strong players and we build the team around them. Others come from national selection practice matches. Our first provincial tournament after the Taliban had more than twenty teams coming to Kabul and people from all across Afghanistan came to watch."

Why do you think that Afghanistan has taken so quickly to cricket?
"We are fighters and cricket is very competitive. One against one. One against eleven. Eleven against eleven. When we play, it is also very personal. A player represents his family, his tribe, his country. It was not so long ago that the same skill needed for cricket – courage, co-ordination, strength – was needed in our country to fight or just to survive. Our life was hard for a long time. It makes us tough. We still like bushkazi, I still like bushkazi."

After victory against the International Special
Auxiliary Forces

The game where two teams on horses smack a sheep across a field from one end to the other?
"It is very violent. I like it, yes! Sports like this were very serious before, now they are more for fun but sports still needs the same strength in mind and body be it cricket or anything else. We are strong because life is tough here."

Taj Malik at the Afghan Games

Are cricketers heroes in Afghanistan?
"The cricketers bring much national honour and pride to our country and every player is keen to do well for himself and his team and his country. You know, I don’t want to say too much about this because I am only a humble servant of the game but because we are a young country (half of Afghanistan is under 21) by getting the children playing cricket and helping Afghanistan become famous for cricket will go a very long way in making Afghanistan a country which is famous for good reasons. I am new to cricket also if you look at it in years views and I will say I am still learning very much, but even I know there is no game better than cricket for making a child feel part of something that is good and character-building. So if cricketers aren’t heroes already, we will make them heroes soon."

Hasti Gul after nets with the Pakistan squad, with Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan, Javed Miandad

Next Page | “If we can fight with our bat and ball instead of the gun then it is good for Afghanistan.”