Mohammad Nabi in Abu Dhabi

Mohammad Nabi, 24, is not only one of Afghanistan’s best cricketers, he is one of Asia’s. An off-spinning all-rounder, he takes wickets and scores runs with an ease and grace that makes the game look very simple. Soft-spoken and modest, his calmness belies an intense competitive temperament. Invariably, when he does well Afghanistan does well.

We caught up with him in Dubai, on the eve of 2010's ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, where a top two finish would take Afghanistan to the West Indies and games against the best in the world.

“I watched Saqlain’s doosra. Then I did it until I had it.”

I was 10 years old when I started cricket. In Peshawar, in a refugee camp

I first saw cricket on television in Pakistan, then tennis-ball cricket in front of me.

I finished my school in Pakistan, all the time playing tennis-ball cricket.

I never knew Afghanistan could play cricket. I never knew I could play cricket but every day I enjoyed playing.


In the countryside of Jalalabad even now there is big crowd whenever we play cricket.

Young boys in Afghanistan play a lot of cricket now.

In Afghanistan my name is famous but not many know my face, because cricket is only on the radio. In Peshawar, my face is famous but not many know my name.

Kevin Pietersen is my favourite player, I met him in England in 2006. And of course Shahid Afridi.

Like Shahid Afridi, who is really Afghani, with my brothers I have a car business.

Cricket has taken me to 12 countries, some - Jersey, Tanzania, I never knew before.

Asia’s newest ODI nation, May 2009

I have played in Pakistan club cricket for Customs one-day matches and three first-class matches for Afghanistan.

In 2006 I played for MCC with Hamid Hassan. It was a good experience. We played a 2-day game and two 1-day games.

Against Saqlain Mushtaq in Sussex, I was watching him. I saw his doosra. I didn’t ask him anything, I kept trying it like his action. When I came back to Pakistan I could bowl it.

Whenever I bowl I put the ball in good areas and see how the batsman copes.

We have good players. If we have good facilities we will go up. We have no physio and no trainer. There is one gym in Jalalabad only. Others have facilities – they have jobs and play cricket. We just play cricket which is good in one way because we play. We cannot make money from cricket.

Winners of the ACC Twenty20 Cup, November 2009

We get a small salary from the Board, it is more than many in Afghanistan so we do not complain but the Board could do more for the players and cricket.

Nabi at 21, at Lord’s, with the world ahead of him
I have no personal targets, when I do my best for Afghanistan then I am happy.

Bangladesh and Zimbabwe will be good competition for us.

Mohammad Nabi Cricinfo Profile
Afghanistan Cricket Profile

Filed Feb 8th, 2010