Afghanistan opening bowler Dawlat Ahmadzai, 25, speaks of his epic journey from war-torn Afghanistan to the ICC WorldTwenty20.
"Some players used to walk one or two hours across mountains at night just to play cricket."
I wasn’t born in a hospital. My father told me that when Russia came to Afghanistan, two or three years later I was born in Pakistan in the refugee camp.
They used to play cricket outside the camps and inside we were playing volleyball. The refugee camp I was in was very big. It was called Swabi and had a hundred thousand homes in it. I remember seeing Imran Khan for the first time on TV when Pakistan won the World Cup and they were all celebrating. After that my brother made a bat and we started playing cricket.
We were always hearing about the war and listening to the radio and they were discussing about the mujahideen (freedom fighters) and how they captured certain areas and a lot of people were killed everyday. In our province, Logar, all the elder people were talking about that area and how many people died there and how all the trees were burned. It was very painful to hear.
The Russians completely destroyed our homes. If we had stayed there, then we too would’ve died surely.
We had to walk four or five kilometres to get to school outside the camp. It wasn’t like we were behind fences like in prison or anything and every morning we’d get milk and food.
Actually we are a very big family. We are from a tribe called Namdhari and it consists of around 4000 people. We live together in one area and in Afghanistan we have huge lands and a village and also in Pakistan we lived together and worked.
There were different tribes from all over who came together in the refugee camps. We were all living in tents and after some time we made rooms and walls by using the mud. Yes, the winters were cold. We used to burn wood to keep ourselves warm. In summer, we used to go to school in the morning and that time it was OK but in the afternoons it would get very, very hot.