Cricket in Afghanistan
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Cricket in Afghanistan is a sport growing in popularity, which is represented internationally by the Afghanistan national cricket team. Afghanistan's proximity to the test playing nation of Pakistan has helped the game to take root.
Afghanistan's playing season runs from May to September. There are 320 cricket clubs and 6 turf wickets in Afghanistan.
Cricket was first played in Afghanistan during the 19th century Anglo-Afghan Wars, with British troops reported has having played in Kabul in 1839. However, unlike many countries, no lasting cricket legacy was left by the British, and it would be more than a hundred years before cricket returned.
In the 1990s, cricket became popular amongst Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and the Afghanistan Cricket Federation was formed there in 1995. They continued to play cricket on their return to their home country in late 2001. Like all sports, cricket was originally banned by the Taliban, but it became an exception in 2000 and the Afghanistan Cricket Federation was elected as an affiliate member of the ICC the following year.
The Afghanistan national cricket team's 21-run win over Namibia in Krugersdorp earned them official One Day International status in April 2009. The team qualified for the 2012 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) is the official governing body of the sport of cricket in Afghanistan. Its current headquarters is in Kabul, Afghanistan. The ACB is Afghanistan's representative at the International Cricket Council and is an affiliate member and has been a member of that body since 2001. It is also a member of the Asian Cricket Council.
Afghanistan's domestic structure consists of a 25-over Inter-Provincial Tournament, which has the participation of 22 provinces in the tournament. The aim of the tournament is to spread the game across the country and to generate a greater depth of talent for the national team to select from. A further aim of the tournament has been to remove the perception that the game was played almost exclusively by members of the Pashto tribe in the East of the country. The best players from the tournament would be selected players for Afghanistan-A and under-19 teams based on their performance and would be sent for training and coaching to Bangladesh. Afghanistan teams often visit Pakistan. Currently Afghanistan A team is visiting Pakistan.
Two teams from the 12-team first round will advance to the next round. The top six from the tournament will then contest Afghanistan's main domestic event - a 50 over tournament in Kabul in May 2010. The 50 over tournament was won by Kabul Province.
Starting in 2011, Afghanistan's domestic cricket structure has grown. The expanded Inter-Provincial Tournament was reorganized into a 50 over tournament and divided into a Challenge Cup section (the Etisalat ODN Challenge Cup with 20 provincial teams) and an Elite Cup section (with 12 provincial teams; 4 of them qualifiers from the Challenge Cup section). In addition to the Inter-Provincial cricket the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has divided the provinces of Afghanistan in to 5 Cricket Regions to enable the better management of the game. The Regions are Amo in the north (centered around Kunduz), Spin Ghar in the northeast bordering Pakistan (centered around Nangarhar), Band-e-Amir in the centre (centered around Kabul), Mes Aynak in the southeast (centered around Khost) and Boost in the west and southwest (centered around Kandahar). The 5 regions in turn have representative teams which play in all traditional 3 formats of cricket; the Ahmad Shah Abdali One-Day Tournament, Ahmad Shah Abdali T20 Tournament and Ahmad Shah Abdali Three-Day Tournament.
In addition to an expansion of the inter-provincial tournament from 25-over matches to 50-over matches and the addition of the T-20 and multi-day formats, cricket in Afghanistan has now expanded across the provinces as well; 32 of the 34 provinces now have representatives sides All provinces except Daykundi and Farah have a representative team, while the ACB recognizes Afghan Refugees and Kochain as provincial teams. There are also plans to expand the three-day league competition into a four-day league in 2014.
The UAE-based telecommunications company, Etisalat is now one of the main sponsors of Afghanistan's cricket, including being then title sponsor in Afghanistan's division 2 inter-provincinal challenge cup and the Etisalat Sixes T20 Tournament.
- Region: Amo
- Region: Band-e-Amir
- Region: Boost
The Afghan national cricket team does not play its home matches inside Afghanistan due to the ongoing security situation and the lack of international standard facilities. Afghanistan played their 'home' Intercontinental Cup fixture against Ireland at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium in Sri Lanka. Following Afghanistan's World Twenty20 qualifying campaign they played two One Day Internationals against Canada at the Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium in the UAE, after which the stadium was named the 'home' ground of Afghanistan. The following are the three major cricket stadiums in Afghanistan:
- Ghazi Amanullah Khan International Cricket Stadium in Nangarhar Province
- Kandahar International Cricket Stadium in Kandahar (under construction)
- Kabul National Cricket Stadium in Kabul (under construction)
Work on the Sherzai Cricket Stadium in Jalalabad, a city known in Afghanistan for being the 'capital of cricket', is in progress. Construction has also begun on the Kabul National Cricket Stadium and the Kandahar International Cricket Stadium in the south of the country.  The President of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, Omar Zakhilwal, announced in October 2010 that the government was planning to construct standard cricket grounds in all 34 provinces in the next two years.
The Afghanistan national cricket team represents the country of Afghanistan in international cricket matches. The national team was formed in 2001, which played in the 2009 World Cup Qualifier after rising rapidly through the World Cricket League, starting in Division Five in May 2008. They play in the Elite division of the ACC Trophy.
Afghanistan's 21-run win over Namibia in Krugersdorp earned them official One Day International status. Afghanistan won their first One Day International against Scotland. In 2011, the team qualified for the 2012 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
- Sport in Afghanistan
- Out of the Ashes (2010 film), a 2010 documentary film
- Afghanistan A tour of Pakistan in 2013
- "Women's Cricket: Afghanistan's Secretive New Sport". Time. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
- Asian Cricket: Afghanistan
- Timeline of Afghanistan cricket at CricketEurope
- Afghanistan Cricket Board - Etisalat ODN Challenge Cup 2013
- Afghanistan Cricket Board - Provincial ODN Challenge And Elite Cup 2011
- Afghanistan Cricket Board - About Domestic Cricket
- Afghanistan Cricket Board - Ahmad Shah Abdali One Day and T20 Tournaments Report
- Afghanistan Cricket Board - Ahmad Shah Abdali Three days Regional Tournament 2011
- Cricinfo Magazine - Where do Afghanistan go next?
- Afghanistan Cricket Board - Team: Afghan Refugees
- Afghanistan Cricket Board - Team: Kochain
- Afghanistan has a new home ground, ACC
- Pajhwok Afghan News - All provinces to have cricket grounds: minister. October 11, 2010.
- Afghanistan and Uganda seal place in ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, ICC Media Release, 31 January 2009
- WCL Division Five Official Site
- Profile of Afghanistan at the ACC website