The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.
NationalSport

Afghanistan cricket team’s incredible victory

Afghanistan cricket team’s rise is extraordinary given the chaos embroiling the country over the past four and a half decades. Cricket represents a rare spot of hope for the wartorn country. The Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup concludes this weekend with India playing South Africa in the final. The victor of the game may get the trophy and prize money; however, the real story of the tournament has been Afghanistan’s progress to the semi-final stage, and the country’s now genuine ascent to becoming a major cricket power. The Diplomat, the premier international current affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region, has published an article about the recent successes of Afghanistan’s National Cricket team, particularly during the T20 World Cup 2024. According to the writer of the article, the Afghan cricket team’s rise is extraordinary giv en the chaos embroiling Afghanistan over the past four and a half decades, as well as how international sporting success usually requires deep cultural roots and sophisticated domestic structures. Within the span of around 15 years, Afghanistan has gone from the lower echelons of the cricketing world – playing Division 5 with Vanuatu and Mozambique – to comfortably beating heavyweights Australia and New Zealand in recent weeks. They have been extraordinarily successful. Cricket has now become the country’s most popular sport, and it is the only sport in which Afghanistan can compete at the elite level. While soccer is also popular, Afghanistan’s men’s team currently ranks a lowly 151st and is unlikely to qualify for that sport’s World Cup any time soon. The writer has written that for many young Afghan men, cricket is seen as the only real career opportunity out of poverty, as success can bring financial rewards beyond the imaginations of most Afghans. Players receive around $3,600 per game played at the T20 World Cup, as well as being paid a monthly salary of between $1,200 and $3,300. In a country where the GDP per capita is $355 per year, this is money that can transform a family’s opportunities. Alongside this, there is the opportunity to play in the international leagues. Eight players in the current Afghan squad have contracts with teams in the highly lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL). The country’s captain, Rashid Khan, earned $1.8 million for this year’s IPL season – an astonishing sum for anyone for just two month’s work. With the success of these cricket players there needs to be an acknowledgement of what they have achieved in such a short period of time within an extraordinarily difficult political landscape. There is resilience and determination on display in their efforts, as well as a natural skill and flair for the game. The hope has to be that one day the country’s cricket team will bring the World Cup and that day is not far. Afghan refugees who had left the country due to the previous Soviet invasion came back to Afghanistan from Pakistan. Having been exposed to the cricket-mad streets of Peshawar, they brought with them not just a love of the game, but the desire to embed it as part of Afghanistan’s culture. It is worth mentioning that the Afghan Cricket Board (ACB) was set up in 1995, the year before the Islamic Emirate began its first stint in power. The national team was established in 2001 and became a member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2017. Mukhtar Safi

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.