Dhaka, Bangladesh
Win or lose, Afghanistan are already cricket World Cup heroes

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Win or lose, Afghanistan are already cricket World Cup heroes

Conflict, violence and turmoil have been the main reasons Afghanistan has made headlines in recent years. Amid a war lasting almost two decades, moments of national joy and excitement have been few and far between. But with the Afghanistan cricket team facing England on Tuesday in only its second Word Cup appearance, we should celebrate the opportunity to show the world the progress the country has made. As one of the national sports of Afghanistan, cricket has become synonymous with the country’s culture and ethos. Yet it was only 20 years ago that a cricket board was established in the country. In this short space of time, the Afghan national side has made an impressive and dogged rise to a position where it is able to compete with the best at an international level. In 2009, Afghanistan was competing in Division Five, the lowest tier of the World Cricket league. Six years later it secured a place in its first World Cup. This success story is remarkable considering that for almost the entire 1990s there was no safe space to practice or play in Afghanistan. Under Taliban rule, sports were banned. There was no cricket team, no pitches and no talk of entering into world competition. Under the shadow of enduring conflict, the current team has grown up facing challenges that would be unimaginable to many. Terror attacks, displacement and conflict continue to affect the country. However, throughout the turmoil, the game has been a source of positivity and strength. Afghanistan is up against well-established teams, such as Australia, India and England, all of which have access to funding and resources that are out of reach for most. In this context, we must celebrate the success of the nation in standing alongside these international titans. It is testament to the Afghan people’s resilience, tenacity and spirit in the face of adversity. For members of the Afghan diaspora in this country, it is a moment of pride to see Afghanistan meet England on the same pitch. England has been a long-standing supporter and advocate of cricket in Afghanistan. During the 2003 national trials in Afghanistan, England donated kit and British diplomats attended to show their support. ---Arab News

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