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“Nothing can touch cricket as a force for good in Afghanistan …”

From a Cricinfo piece by George Dobell, about the one day cricket international between Afghanistan and Pakistan, played in the United Arab Emirates yesterday:

A spokesman for the Taliban contacted the Afghanistan Cricket Board on the morning of the game to wish the team well and assure them they would be remembered in their prayers.

Pakistan won at a canter, but the Afghans did not disgrace themselves, in their first ODI against a top ranked, Full Member, test playing nation.

Afghan minister of finance Dr Omar Zakhilwal:

“The event appears to have united the entire country. … There is nothing that can touch cricket in popularity or as a force for good in Afghanistan. There is absolutely nothing else that mobilises our society in the same way. Not politics, political events or reconstruction.”

Cricket, says Dobell, is booming in Afghanistan:

Not only is the international team now full time, but there are league teams in 28 of the 34 provinces …

However, Dobell goes on to report that:

… the sport will be made compulsory as part of the school curriculum.

And you get the definite feeling that Dobell thinks that’s good. I am a rabid cricket fan, but I say that nothing puts many people off a sport more completely than being made to play it against their will. For sport, read: anything.

I remember school contemporaries who would have preferred being in the Taliban to playing bloody cricket.

15 comments to “Nothing can touch cricket as a force for good in Afghanistan …”

  • Alisa

    Nothing can touch the Anglosphere as a force for good everywhere. Oddly enough, it even includes cricket…:-)

  • RAB

    I’ll open the batting against them, just as long as the ball their using isn’t ticking. ;-)

  • I hated playing cricket at school, but i loved it when cricket season started…
    You see, demonstrating a certain uselessness at cricket means one is last in the queue to bat, and placed far away from the action on the fielding. PE cricket lessons for me meant lazing in the sunshine…

    Oh, the Afghans? Good luck to ‘em.

  • M. Thompson

    So, should they set up a cricket match between the top Taliban and Government backed players as a way to end the whole thing? Compared to most ideas, at least this one could get some traction.

  • Stonyground

    The point about sport aversion therapy is interesting. I utterly loath football and rugby because I was forced to participate in both at school. I never had any interest in cricket until I met my wife who loves it. Had I been forced to play it I would have been hopeless as I can’t catch or throw a ball to save my life. Having been educated about cricket, I am now fascinated by all forms of the game.

  • Sam Duncan

    You and me both, wh00ps. For me, it demonstrates the essential civility of cricket: if you’re rubbish at other games (for example, off the top of my head, rugby), the game, through your fellow players, punishes you mercilessly. Cricket can be enjoyed by the adept and hamfisted alike, albeit it different ways.

  • bettiwettiwoo

    However nice it is to see Afghanistan perhaps entering a more ‘normal’ stage, in their own society and in the international community, by participating in sporting events, I refuse to understand the excitement over the Taliban’s well wishes.

    So what if they send a message of support?

    They’re still the Taliban. The kind of people who ban girls from going to school and don’t even want women to be able to read; who shot widows for having the temerity to work in order to support their children; and who murder homosexuals for being homosexuals. Who cares that they now claim to support Afghanistani cricket all of a sudden?! (Please consider that when in power, the Taliban banned cricket, along with other sports.) Why would this message of ‘support’ matter in the least even if true?!

    It’s like pointing out that Hitler was fond of dogs.

  • Alisa

    Because it is a sign of a deeper (albeit probably very limited) change in that society, bettiwettiwoo. It doesn’t necessarily say anything encouraging about the Taliban, but it does say something about the wider public to which the Taliban, like any political organization, has to pander.

  • What’s the fuss, there is nothing new in this. Cricket has been played in Afghanistan for a century to my knowledge, just as it has in Pakistan and India.

    I repeat, nothing new at all and indicative of no change in anything.

  • Russ

    In a region torn by warlords, it teaches kids that you can lose…. and not *lose.* That’s essential for non-body-count politics.

  • Hmm

    “Nothing can touch cricket as a force for good in Afghanistan …”

    After thinking about it for a while – I reckon a mile wide meteorite might :p

  • Paul Marks

    This plan (cricket to civilize the Afghan hordes) appears to be insane.

    However, the whole Afghan situation is insane – so perhaps it is time for an insane gesture at this point.

    My own advice would be to RUN AWAY from Afghanistan (I am not going to lie like that piece of shit Walter C. of CBS with his 1968 “this reporter believes in a honourable peace via talks” in Vietnam – running away is running away, not an “honourable peice” and a peace treaty with vermin is worthless).

    However, if we are not going to pull out of Afghanistan – we might as well play cricket.

    It is as good a way to die as any other.

    The Taliban will (of course) send suicide bombers and so on (as they do to other sporting events where they think they can kill pro Western folk) – but at least people will die dressed to play cricket (which is interesting).

    However, perhaps the Taliban will adjust their policy to allow cricket to be played after they return to power (which they will).

    After all, there is nothing in the Koran or any of the versions of the Hadith, against cricket.

    Although time spent playing cricket may eat into valuable shooting practice (and beheading practice).

    But it may also improve hand-eye-coordination.

    So the Taliban may end up favouring it.

  • Laird

    Hmm’s post made me chuckle. Thanks!

  • bgates

    There’s a lot of truth here, cricket fans.