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Afghanistan deserve all the praise


Mike Atherton in his Glorious Summers and Discontents quite fondly tells how the first time qualification for the 50 overs World Cup brought joy to Bangladesh. It had come on the back of their victory at the 1997 Associate’s World Cup. And it was followed by roads packed with fans, prizes from the ministry, cash rewards from the generous Prime Minister and ‘tell us what we can do for you’ questions.

Afghanistan’s qualification for the Cricket World Cup 2015 is as grand as what their Asian neighbours did about a decade and half before. May be, in the presence of a lot more guns than the roses. However, the social background through which (or despite which) the qualification was achieved and social satisfaction it would create is more or less similar.

The story of Afghanistan is about rising through the war, violence and conflict against the Western world and the powers within. But while continuing to appreciate the hardships of the team and those around it, we must do away with being too mushy for Afghan cricket or too focused on their country’s environment. Agreed that they need time to develop as a top-notch cricket team. But from now on they must be assessed by how effectively they play their cricket against the top teams.

Afghanistan have the examples of Kenya, Bangladesh, Netherland and for that matter Zimbabwe before them. All these teams’ rise until the highest level of International cricket was celebrated. Rightfully so. However, these countries for various reasons such as political anarchy, lack of healthy cricketing infrastructure, absence of highly skilled cricketers and failure to consistently thrive at the highest stage could not bridge the gap between International cricket and cricket a level below that.

It is often in life and in sports that inadequacy to sustain the progress stalls the improvement. It may come as a statutory warning of sorts. But the same principle applies to Afghanistan cricket even while we fondly remember their journey thus far. Hence, if Afghan cricket is not handled with due care and diligence by the Afghanistan Cricket Board, International Cricket Council (ICC) and supported by other cricket boards via inviting Afghan team for A tours or ODIs, Afghanistan’s story will follow Bangladesh’s path of the unfulfilled promises.

Ed Smith in his recent article highlighted the absence of any great cricket movie. While an inexistence of any such movie is appalling, Smith’s suggestion of making one focusing on Indian cricket is surely entertaining. Charecteristic Smith who not only dwells on a problem, but comes up with a solution. But Afghanistan’s journey to qualify for the Cricket World Cup 2015 can be one of the happy alternative for the movie-makers. And considering, most of us love happy endings, ABangladesh from Afghanistan would be a perfect storyline.

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