AFGHANISTAN’S CRICKET DIPLOMACY



A few days after the national team completed a tour of Pakistan, where they took on Pakistan A in three one-day matches and two Twenty20s, Afghanistan’s administrators were in India. During the Final of the Women’s World Cup in Mumbai, the Afghanistan Cricket Board’s Chairman Shahzada Masoud met with BCCI Joint Honorary Secretary Sanjay Jagdale at Brabourne Stadium. Afghanistan’s game development was the main topic of discussion, with the Afghan officials seeking assistance from India.



“Our main proposal was to train Afghan coaches, umpires, video analysts and scorers and request for training opportunities for Afghan senior and junior players. The meeting was a productive one,” says Afghanistan Cricket Board High Performance Manager Basheer Stanikzai. Board of Control for Cricket in India General Manager Game Development Professor Ratnakar Shetty was also at the meeting, and “they have asked us to send us a formal proposal,” says Mr. Stanikzai. “They were very keen to support Afghanistan’s cricket development,” he adds.



High on the list of requests for assistance is advice in appointing a batting coach, Afghanistan’s weaknesses against top-quality pace bowling have been made evident in two consecutive World Twenty20s and a brief spell at the Indian Global Cricket Academy with Umesh Patwal hasn’t been enough. Four Afghans have been playing with some distinction in this year’s Bangladesh Premier League and following the meeting in Mumbai, the ACB officials flew to Delhi where they met with Indian Premier League Chairman Rajeev Shukla at his residence. The meeting was described as “successful,” by Mr. Stanikzai, “we were very pleased to hear his positive response on all kinds of assistance to the ACB and Mr. Shukla promised us that he would try to involve Afghan players in the 2014 IPL.”



Cricket diplomacy of a kind was also undertaken by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, who, the day after the Afghanistan Cricket Board officials left Brabourne, played a game with local children at the Oval Maidan in Mumbai.

Their rise since 2000 has been remarkable but there is still a gap between where Afghanistan are and where they want to be. “We are glad to see Afghanistan make use of their contacts in order to advance their cause, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have all been helpful in their way, and any initiatives which cement the position of more developing Asian nations in the World Twenty20s and World Cups are to be encouraged,” says Asian Cricket Council Chief Executive Syed Ashraful Huq.

Afghanistan Cricket Profile

Filed February 22nd, 2013