Cricket Warrior

Taj Malik, with the Afghan Sports Minister
Mr. Mohammed Anwar and Iqbal Sikander
standing behind him

What can the ACC do to further the cause?

"It is not a job for the ACC alone. We must also do the work. We are very grateful to the ACC for all the help and support it provides to us – without it cricket would be slowly improving only. It is hard to do things according to their pace sometimes (ACC Development Officer Iqbal Sikander smiles ruefully whenever I mention the topic of Afghanistan to him) but if they are patient with us on some things, I know our results will show we are developing."

"We have sponsors, Roshan Telecoms who see a good future for us. It is also important that our Government keeps on encouraging our youth to play cricket because cricket cannot advance without government support. Much of my time is also spent with the Ministry of Sport!"

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job as coach and administrator?
"Going around the country I have learned a simple truth: most people, men at least, really do love cricket when they get a chance to play it or watch it. Cricket is good for building unity where there can be fighting and being attached to cricket, the game that is so popular in Pakistan and India, makes it very attractive."

How do you think the youngsters can best benefit from cricket?
"The troubles for the children of Afghanistan have been very bad and are very painful to even think about yet even so, cricket is like a light in their lives. Those who cannot play know records better than me and know foreign players better than me. It is something that is opening their eyes to the world for good reasons. Those who play cricket are maybe getting some direction in their lives which is taking them to a place where life inside a cricket field can be the better than life outside it. In cricket you always have someone who will look after you."

When will the wickets of mud and sand and concrete become turf?
"We are trying our best."

Why do you like cricket so much?
"It is my chance to do something for my country. My dream is that we will beat, God willing, a big team and give our country something to be happy. We are a young country and trying very hard. If we can fight with our bat and ball instead of the gun then it is good for Afghanistan. I am thinking of cricket 24 hours a day and now my whole family, even my mother, she knows cricket."

Filed 2nd March 2005