The old Soviet Union had them, China has had them since the days of Chairman Mao and now Afghanistan has one: a Five Year Plan. For cricket. Like all plans, especially those over five years, 99% of its success will depend not on what is said at the start but what is done every step of the way. Ambitious as it is, Afghanistan’s is achievable.

“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” said Browning and Afghanistan, if they get to where they want to go, will be established on the international stage with a steady stream of good cricketers being provided by their domestic cricket. Beneath the copy-and-paste management-jargon unfortunately so prevalent in contemporary discourse is this basic Afghan dream: “to raise performance in all cricket formats to the elite level.”

Asia’s newest ODI nation, February 2009 The national squad in Jalalabad, June 2011

Afghanistan’s cricket in the past ten years, which has seen them go from being a disorganised rag-tag band of nomadic hitters into a team that has impressed mightily on the world stage and that has won the respect and affection of millions has come about not because, but instead, of their administration. The team has gone through three coaches in the past three years and four Chief Executives in the past two while being the same core of individuals that took them all the way from Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 to ODI status and a place in the 2010 World Twenty20 and a silver medal at the Asian Games. It has been an exhilarating ride.

They have their own home ground now and what looks like the beginnings of some proper support from the administrators: practise facilities are being put in place, teams are being picked on merit and the players are left to do what they do best – play cricket. However, they still rely heavily on two match-winners: Hamid Hassan and Mohammad Nabi, lose them through injury and retirement and Afghanistan become beatable. ACC Development Officer Iqbal Sikander who was with Afghanistan during their successful and coach-less tour of Canada says, “I would say that the next few years, if not months are crucial to Afghanistan’s progress. They need to build on all that they have achieved and fully realise their potential. Even with all their talent, there is lots of room for improvement on and off the field. Playing against top-class competition can only help them get better and if the Board officials truly provide all the things the team needs then the team will reward the whole country and all their fans.”

Five-year plans come and go, some of them only exist to get published. Having said that, you can only execute if you have a plan. And many Associate countries, let alone Affiliates do not. Afghanistan’s success on the field has inspired many other emerging countries, if it does the same through it’s actions off the field it will be a real champion.

Afghanistan Cricket Board Strategic Plan 2011-2015

Filed September 9th, 2011