Weren’t you once in the national Under-17 squad?
Yes, Khaleqdad and I once organized a short 15-day tour to Mohali. Our U-17 team went and had training and a tournament there. We made that team jointly. In that team we had Karim, Nabi, Hamid, Noor Ali, Samiullah who are all in the national team now. I joined for those 15 days and I really enjoyed it. There was a lot of training involved for that.

When did Afghanistan first open up to cricket?
I think it was in 1996 when the World Cup was in Pakistan. There was a lot of cricket in Peshawar and in school everyday there were matches and so I learnt cricket there. I love to watch Ricky Ponting play and previously it was Brian Lara. Even at home my son who is 2 ½ asks me to turn off the TV because I watch so much cricket. I love to watch international cricket and it helped me learn a lot of things like by listening to the commentary. I learned things like the shots hit by batsmen and many other things about the game by watching international cricket.

Afghanistan, 2010 ACC Trophy Elite

When did you first start realise that Afghanistan could be a good cricketing team?
It was on the Under-17 tour. They had a lot of passion for their country. They wanted to play and do everything well when they wore the national jersey. Our team has a lot of courage. From Division Five we knew we could go higher. We hate to lose. Losing hurts even more than the joy of winning and I think that is a good sign for a successful team.

Basheer receives a token of esteem from Hong Kong's assistant coach Sher Lama during the ACC Twenty20 Cup 2009 in Kuwait

How do you rate the team now?
We are a nation that can compete in the 50-overs World Cup, not just T20. We beat Ireland on the way here to the Twenty20 World Cup. Ireland prepare themselves very well and it was a good chase of 134 against them in the Twenty20 Qualifier Final because they are a strong bowling and fielding side. And in the WorldT20 we were with India and South Africa, two top-ranked teams in the world. It is a good experience for our players to play against such top-class cricketers.

After this tournament the players will want to work harder and compete strongly against any other team. I believe they will now easily beat teams from the ACC as well as the ones in the World Cricket Leagues. These games will give our boys a lot of courage because they now know they have played against the best in the world. What we need is to arrange a few more international matches to train the team and raise their performance.

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