Fresh from their nation-wide euphoria inducing success at the ICC World Cup Qualifier in April, members of the Afghanistan side went to Jalalabad in northern Afghanistan to bring a whole new generation of cricketers in contact with cricket. "This land in the mountains was at the heart of the Afghan war for independence," says Afghan national cricketer Raees Ahmadzai, "The people from here did not see cricket in Pakistan like many others, for them cricket is new and they love it. I think from here we will see new cricketers coming for Afghanistan."

The players from the national team were attending a 'Spirit of Cricket' camp set up by the MCC at Sang Boran school which is twinned with Eton College, the former school of MCC Committee member Matthew Fleming. The MCC's work is being supported by a charity called Afghan Connection with whom MCC work to provide cricket equipment in Afghanistan as well as the Swedish Programme who are providing on-ground assistance.

Mohammad Nabi gets the ball rolling in Jalalabad Samiullah Shenwari imparts the art of leg-spin

"The MCC and Dr. Fane of Afghan Connection as well as all those who are going to Afghanistan are doing much to bring joy to a country that has suffered so much in the past 30 years. Cricket is uniting the country and putting it into the top 15 of the world in a positive way", says ACC Development Officer for Afghanistan Iqbal Sikander.

"Everyone in Afghanistan is being brave right now, but we all hope that as cricket becomes more and more popular, the need to be brave will be reduced because the spirit of cricket, of peace, of sportsmanship, of solving problems without guns, will be spread through the country," he adds. "Being a cricketer is to be a good person - that is the ideal lesson of cricket . Being a good cricketer in Afghanistan is to be an inspiring lesson in the spirit of cricket".

Matthew Fleming in Jalalabad

At the end of the Jalalabad camp Raees Ahmadzai said, “As the Director of the Camp, thanks to my National players for coming and attending and coaching. They gave a lot of good tips to the young cricketers and we found so much new talent. The camp was very successful and I want to continue to have these camps around Afghanistan in other provinces.”

From the top-down the ACC and ICC are providing Afghanistan with funding and equipment and the fundamental requirements to develop cricket and take Afghanistan further into the world of international competition. Initiatives such as the MCC's and other concerned organisations in actually reaching out to those in the field are also a vital part of the process and the ACC wishes continued success to all those working to develop the game.

All pictures by Leslie Knott

Related articles:
‘Out of the Ashes’
Afghanistan Country Profile

Filed May 8, 2009