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 to have 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.
Today cricket is the most popular sport in Afghanistan, and the Afghanistan team has made quick progress in the international arena.
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 originally consisted of a 25-over Inter-Provincial Tournament, which had the participation of 22 provinces in the tournament. The aim of the tournament was 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 was 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 were selected players for Afghanistan-A and under-19 teams based on their performance and would be sent for training and coaching to Bangladesh.
The top two teams from the 12-team first round advanced to the next round. The top six from the tournament then contested a 50 over tournament in Kabul. The 50 over tournament in May 2010 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 on Kunduz), Spin Ghar in the northeast bordering Pakistan (centered on Nangarhar), Band-e-Amir in the centre (centered on Kabul), Mes Aynak in the southeast (centered on Khost) and Boost in the west and southwest (centered on 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 representative sides. All provinces except Daykundi and Farah have a representative team, while the ACB recognizes Afghan Refugees and Koochian (Nomads) as provincial teams. The three-day league competition was expanded into a four-day league in 2014-15.
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
- Region: Mes Aynak
- Region: Spin Ghar
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.
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 following are the major cricket stadiums in Afghanistan:
- Ghazi Amanullah Khan International Cricket Stadium in Ghazi Amanullah Khan City, Nangarhar Province
- Kandahar International Cricket Stadium in Kandahar (under construction)
- Kabul National Cricket Stadium in Kabul
- Sherzai Cricket Stadium in Jalalabad(under construction)
- Mazar-i-Sharif Cricket Stadium in Mazar-i-Sharif
- Khost City Stadium in Khost City
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.
National Team Honours
- Winners of the ACC Twenty20 Cup the most number of times (2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013).
- Winners ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2010 and two Runners-up in 2012 and 2013.
- Winners of the season 2009-2010 ICC Intercontinental Cup and Runners-up in 2011-2013 season.
- Runners-up in the Asian Games 2010 and 2014.
- Winners of the 2014 ACC Premier League.
- Winners of the 2010 ACC Trophy (Elite)
The Afghanistan national women's cricket team is the team that represents the country of Afghanistan in international women's cricket matches. The team was formed in 2010, drawing on players mostly from Kabul. Although the team is yet to play representative cricket, it had been scheduled to take part in the 2011 ACC Women’s Twenty20 in Kuwait, which ran from 17 – 25 February. The team was forced the withdraw from the tournament before travelling to Kuwait due to elements in Afghanistan opposing women's participation in sport
Under-19 Cricket Team
Afghanistan finished second in the 2009 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier which was held in Canada. The team gained victories over the Under-19 teams of Sierra Leone, Hong Kong, Vanuatu, the United States, Uganda, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea. The team lost just two matches to Ireland and Canada. Afghanistan have finished fourth in 2011 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier which gained them qualification to 2012 Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
Afghanistan played in the 2012 Under-19 Cricket World Cup. They played against Pakistan, New Zealand & Scotland.
Afghanistan had qualified for 2014 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup. They were drawn against Australia, Bangladesh & Namibia in group B in they beat and qualified for Super league where they lost of South Africa. They finished tournament of high by securing 7th position.
In October, 2014 Afghanistan Under-19 team toured neighboring country Pakistan for a three One Day matches series, which ended up in the favor of Afghanistan as 2-1 .
- 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.
- "Profile of Afghanistan". Asian Cricket Council. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
- 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?
- Domestic cricket: Teams, Afghanistan Cricket Board
- "Afghanistan Regional 4-Day Tournament 2014-15". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- Afghanistan has a new home ground, ACC
- Pajhwok Afghan News – All provinces to have cricket grounds: minister. 11 October 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
- First women's cricket team for Afghanistan
- "Afghanistan's Pioneer Women". Asian Cricket Council. 15 August 2011.