|Scotland Defeated by Afghanistan 25th Feb 2015|
But it was me who fell about laughing the other day when I read about the Afghanistan cricket team qualifying for the World Twenty20 tournament. I don’t know why – it just seemed strange that this war-torn country played cricket and yet when you think of it, the fact that they border Pakistan, who are a great cricketing nation, obviously rubs off on them. Pity it doesn’t work for Scotland that way!
Recently, Afghanistan won five of their six matches at the World Twenty20 qualifying tournament, beating Ireland twice and achieving an especially sweet and slightly ironic victory against the USA. They will now play in the World Twenty20 proper, which starts at the end of April.
Behind these recent results however are 10 years of hard work, not just by the Afghan cricketers but also from a variety of volunteers from across the cricketing world. Afghanistan became an associate member of the ICC in 2001, just four months before the first bombs fell on Kabul. Two documentaries about the rise and rise of Afghan cricket are already in production but if a film is ever made there will be some curious casting decisions to be made along the way.
Who, for example, will play Mike Gatting? It was Gatting who captained the MCC in a pioneering exhibition match against Afghanistan in Mumbai back in 2006. The MCC lost by 179 runs, and Gatting was caught behind without scoring.
Monty Panesar, a current England international player had his helmet broken by the first ball he received from an Afghan fast bowler. So they’re not woosies then?
I can’t wait for April – Scotland versus Afghanistan – what a match in prospect.