Picture courtesy Aric Tan

Chief Executive Officer of the Afghanistan Cricket Board Dr. Aimal Shinwari, 30, is a young man in charge of a young sport in a country with a long-standing combative pedigree. Active in Afghan cricket since November 2009, he has spent his time studying and observing his cricketers, and as many as possible of those in the rest of the world. His goal: to keep Afghanistan cricket healthy on and off the field.

He spoke to us in Dubai as his team qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 2010.

"The Afghan cricket team is working tirelessly to make the Afghan nation proud"

Are you a doctor of medicine or holder of a doctorate?
I am a doctor, a physician with an interest in internal medicine. I graduated from Nangarhar University in Jalalabad, which is the ‘capital of cricket’ in Afghanistan.

Are you still working as a doctor at present?
No. I am working full-time with the ACB (Afghanistan Cricket Board).

Picture courtesy Leslie Knott

What is the current condition of Afghanistan?
Over the past decades we were in bad circumstances after being occupied by the Russians and then by the Mujahideen and the Taliban. In these years some of the players and youngsters were obliged to leave their homes to go to Pakistan as refugees. Right now things are improving for us. The main source of players has come from Pakistan and they have played a lot of their early cricket there. Gradually they have returned home and are trying to improve cricket and so finally we are fortunate to be amongst the top cricketing nations.

Why do you think Afghanistan, even though it has a common border with Pakistan, did not play cricket earlier?
Earlier in Afghanistan if you inquire about the most popular game, it would be soccer. The others would be ‘buzkashi’ which is a local sport. But after a lot of people migrated and came back to Afghanistan, there were a lot of new sports. Cricket was very new and people had no idea about it but when the people went to Pakistan and India they learnt the game and came back here and spread it. The people realized it was a popular game worldwide and if we had a fundamental knowledge about it then we too would be successful in it. Therefore the game was registered with the government and with the Afghanistan’s Olympic body and the game was supported by the government after that. In the future we hope to be more successful.

Is cricket seen as a Pakistani game?
Cricket is most popular among those Afghans who have spent time in Pakistan yes, but it is the one sport in which Afghanistan is famous in the world and now almost all of the country knows about it.

Next Page | “Some parts are not working so we need to make it healthy again.”