Afghanistan, who won through with Hong Kong to play in the ICC U/19 World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year, have started their campaign to qualify for the U/19 World Cup in February 2012.

500 aspiring players turned up in Kabul this week, from all over the country, to be welcomed by a speech from Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO Hamid Shinwari that affirmed a fair selection process, before being put through their paces.

Registration of the players with their National Identity cards took three days by itself, some Afghans travelling from Pakistan to take part and staying with relatives or in temporary accommodation during the week they were in Kabul. From the 500 trialled, 100 will be selected. The 100 will initially be portioned out into five regional U-19 teams, encompassing 29 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

14 players will take part in the ACC U-19 Elite Cup in Thailand in February 2011, Afghanistan being runners-up to Hong Kong in 2009. A reserve squad will be known as the National Academy Team.

Registering the players at Kabul Stadium

“Afghanistan have started to take their domestic cricket development seriously which is good to see as the special set of circumstances which created such a great group of players over the past ten years is changing. In the last U/19 World Cup they underperformed because of the loss of several players in key positions with no adequate replacements. The more players that play organised cricket and who can be channelled into the national team based on merit will continue the upward trend of cricket in the country. There are high expectations of Afghanistan now, especially inside the country and a successful U-19 team will do a lot to strengthen the game there,” says ACC Development Officer for Afghanistan Iqbal Sikander.

Former national player and now Chief Selector Ahmed Shah Ahmadi with the best view in the house

Pictures courtesy of Ilham Yasini, ACB

Afghanistan Cricket Profile

Filed October 29th, 2010