AFGHANISTAN: THE DOCTOR DIAGNOSES



When did you first become aware of cricket?
It was when I lived in Pakistan where I learnt about cricket. I saw Imran Khan captain Pakistan in the 1992 World Cup where they won, he is a Pathan like many Afghans. I was very interested to learn and understand the game and so some friends and I learnt and played the game. After I graduated from my university I realized the Afghan cricket team is working tirelessly to make the Afghan nation proud. Finally I got the position as the CEO of the Afghanistan Cricket Board and I am really proud to be working with Afghanistan cricket.

How did you become the chosen candidate as the CEO?
I was working with the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development as a research officer when Dr. Hazrat decided to hand the position to somebody to run this organization. I applied with my CV and was shortlisted for an interview.

The ACB Chairman Dr. Hazrat Zakhilwal, with his Vice-Chairman and CEO, having flown in specially for the Final of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, Dubai, February 13 2010
Picture courtesy Aric Tan

What is the history of the Afghanistan Cricket Board?
Afghanistan cricket was established in 1995. No one used to take responsibility of cricket in the nation because it was a new game for the people and the government. At that time, Allah Dad Noori was fundamental in forming the Afghanistan Cricket Board. Allad Dad Noori and Shahzada Masoud who is the current Vice-Chairman struggled a lot for the organization. Eventually Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai chose to appoint Dr. Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal who is the Finance Minister of Afghanistan as Chairman. Things were going on well but there were still some administrative problems. When I came the first thing I did was to reform the administration. We have recruited qualified personnel and now things are running smoothly.

The ACB Vice-Chairman and CEO, Dubai International Cricket Stadium, February 12 2010
Picture courtesy Aric Tan

There has to be a growth of the game in Afghanistan so that it is not just the former refugees who are playing. At present we have 20 projects we are doing. Ten of them are for developing local cricket, ten of them are for cricket infrastructure.

What is your diagnosis of Afghanistan cricket?
The ACB is quite healthy. As a doctor I can give you an example. The human body has vital organs like the heart and the brain and if these two parts are damaged then the human body doesn’t function normally. The Cricket Board also has vital parts. Some parts are not working so we need to make it healthy again. From now on we need to hire these kinds of people who will improve the organization.

Messrs. Shinwari and Masoud with Sayed Shah Aminzai and Bashir Stanikzai of the ACB
Picture courtesy Aric Tan

Are there young Afghanis coming up?
We do have backups for the senior team. If you remember, our U-19 team qualified for the ICC U/19 World Cup which was held in New Zealand. We have some players who are very capable and well-trained like Noor-ul-Haq, Zakiullah Zaki amongst others. We have already thought of them as substitutes. For the future we can pick and choose players from the domestic tournaments which are held between 22 provinces and there are some young players we can choose from.

The 2009 Afghan U-19s

Is cricket played in schools in all Afghan provinces?
Not all of them. Out of 34 there are 22 provinces that are playing cricket. We have representatives in each province. We are also now trying to broadcast cricket games into these provinces.

Next Page | “It is unsafe but Afghanistan is slowly getting better.”