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Author Topic: Afghanistan's unloved cricketers  (Read 2166 times)
Ahhangar
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« on: May 15, 2009, 07:22:03 PM »

Afghanistan's unloved cricketers

The young Afghan cricket team may have achieved major victories, but their countrymen still distrust them

The Guardian - UK
Reza Mohammadi
Friday 15 May 2009

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/15/afghanistan-cricket-team-pakistan

When the Afghan cricket team returned to the country after its international victories, Afghans showed little evidence of joy. Many of them felt no emotion, and there were even some who brought up the team in conversation only to mock them. Only a few played music and danced the attan, and so welcomed the happy news for their country. Perhaps the many years of war and sorrow have made Afghans forget kindness and joy. Or maybe those years have made them view everything with suspicion and pessimism.

If you tried to get inside Afghan society, you'd discover some interesting reasons for this lack of enthusiasm. The first is that the players are not only all Pashtun but also come from the east of the country. In Afghanistan's tribal society, the team's success was interpreted as a sign of Pashtuns' special privileges in the social and political spheres. Afghans, who tend to perceive everything through racial and tribal filters, do not regard a team whose members belong to a single ethnicity as a team representing the nation.

A similar lack of enthusiasm was evident in last year's reception of Rohullah Nikpai, who won the country's first Olympic medal. Nikpai is a taekwondo fighter and is an ethnic Hazara. But few people apart from the Hazaras were happy about his success. Many Afghans expect sport teams – and all other aspects of society – to function like a coalition government, ensuring tribal, racial and regional balance. This expectation started with Karzai's administration, the foundations of which were based on such principles. The result has been that Afghanistan's sport teams have repeatedly been defeated in recent years.

But the second reason that the cricket team is viewed with suspicion has to do with the fact that most of the sportsmen have lived in Pakistani refugee camps. Afghans view the team's success as part of a Pakistani conspiracy, leading to an intensification of Pakistan's influence on Afghan culture and society. They argue, in particular, that Afghanistan's first-ever cricket federation was founded in 1995, in Pakistan.

Yet another reason for Afghan animosity towards the team is its link to Imran Khan, a former captain of the Pakistani cricket team. Suspicious Afghans believe Imran Khan to be the team's founder and main supporter. Imran Khan is from the Pashtun Niazi tribe, many members of which live in Afghanistan. He is someone who has repeatedly talked about the Pashtun issue, their lack of power in Pakistan and even the Taliban. According to the journalist Ahmed Rashid, during the Taliban era Imran Khan was in contact with the head of Pakistani intelligence, Hamid Gul. They also argue that his founding of the Movement for Justice party and his candidacy in the Pakistani presidential elections are evidence of his political ambitions. There has never been any proof of Imran Khan's direct or indirect role in the Afghan cricket team but the Afghans' suspicion increased when the team was seen training either in the city of Lahore or at Peshawar's Niazi sports club.

More suspicion was caused by the admission that some of the team members were born in Islamabad, while some said in interviews that they only listen to Pakistani songs. But most Pashtuns in both countries have never accepted the border and all major Pashtun tribes in Afghanistan have relatives in Pakistan. So, in a way, their having been brought up in Pakistan is irrelevant to their sense of loyalty.

But the team's supporters and Pashtuns who follow sport news disregard such tensions in their writing and focus mainly on the ban on playing cricket during the Taliban era. They view the team as a source of pride for Afghanistan and the cause of a change in the country's image in the world. I agree with them that the team's success has been a soothing balm for the wounded pride of all Afghans.

Be this as it may, cricket is not without history in Afghanistan. According to Roy Morgan's encyclopedia of world cricket, the British troops brought cricket to Kabul in 1839. The game was played there for a long time but never attracted Afghan players or audiences. A century and a half later, in 1995, the game returned to Afghanistan via Pakistan and in 2001 the Afghan team became a member of the International Cricket Council. The first Afghan game was played against a local team in Peshawar's gymkhana sport club. In 2003, the team became a member of the Asian Cricket Council and over the last two years it has had many remarkable victories. But still the Afghan capital has neither a cricket training ground nor a proper league. In contrast to cricket, there are plenty of organised and functioning football, volleyball and martial arts leagues operating in Kabul and provincial cities.

Despite all this, the young team is hoping to eventually win the Afghans' trust. Even if Afghans carry on refusing to watch them play or receive them with flowers upon their victorious return from tournaments, the least they can do is to acknowledge them as Afghanistan's national players and love them for it.

Translated by Nushin Arbabzadah
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shinno
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2009, 07:23:34 AM »

I certainly love them and cheer for them.  :-*
I undrestand cricket and often watch,play with friends. There are mainly pashtuns in the team because most pashtuns went to tribal areas of pakistan as refugees during the war and cricket is very popular there so they picked up cricket. Many hazaras are good at football and many of them learned it in Iran where they went as refugees. If cricket becomes more popular in the whole of Afghanistan we will have more Tajiks, hazaras, uzbeks and others in the team hopefully. The main center of Afghan cricket is in Kabul so it is certainly open to every one. The main reason I think why Afghans don't cheer for the team is because cricket is not popular in Afghanistan, even volleyball is more popular there.
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Amir al Ghaznavi
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« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2009, 03:48:58 PM »

Afghanistan's unloved cricketers

The young Afghan cricket team may have achieved major victories, but their countrymen still distrust them

The Guardian - UK
Reza Mohammadi
Friday 15 May 2009

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/15/afghanistan-cricket-team-pakistan

When the Afghan cricket team returned to the country after its international victories, Afghans showed little evidence of joy. Many of them felt no emotion, and there were even some who brought up the team in conversation only to mock them. Only a few played music and danced the attan, and so welcomed the happy news for their country. Perhaps the many years of war and sorrow have made Afghans forget kindness and joy. Or maybe those years have made them view everything with suspicion and pessimism.

If you tried to get inside Afghan society, you'd discover some interesting reasons for this lack of enthusiasm. The first is that the players are not only all Pashtun but also come from the east of the country. In Afghanistan's tribal society, the team's success was interpreted as a sign of Pashtuns' special privileges in the social and political spheres. Afghans, who tend to perceive everything through racial and tribal filters, do not regard a team whose members belong to a single ethnicity as a team representing the nation.

A similar lack of enthusiasm was evident in last year's reception of Rohullah Nikpai, who won the country's first Olympic medal. Nikpai is a taekwondo fighter and is an ethnic Hazara. But few people apart from the Hazaras were happy about his success. Many Afghans expect sport teams – and all other aspects of society – to function like a coalition government, ensuring tribal, racial and regional balance. This expectation started with Karzai's administration, the foundations of which were based on such principles. The result has been that Afghanistan's sport teams have repeatedly been defeated in recent years.

But the second reason that the cricket team is viewed with suspicion has to do with the fact that most of the sportsmen have lived in Pakistani refugee camps. Afghans view the team's success as part of a Pakistani conspiracy, leading to an intensification of Pakistan's influence on Afghan culture and society. They argue, in particular, that Afghanistan's first-ever cricket federation was founded in 1995, in Pakistan.

Yet another reason for Afghan animosity towards the team is its link to Imran Khan, a former captain of the Pakistani cricket team. Suspicious Afghans believe Imran Khan to be the team's founder and main supporter. Imran Khan is from the Pashtun Niazi tribe, many members of which live in Afghanistan. He is someone who has repeatedly talked about the Pashtun issue, their lack of power in Pakistan and even the Taliban. According to the journalist Ahmed Rashid, during the Taliban era Imran Khan was in contact with the head of Pakistani intelligence, Hamid Gul. They also argue that his founding of the Movement for Justice party and his candidacy in the Pakistani presidential elections are evidence of his political ambitions. There has never been any proof of Imran Khan's direct or indirect role in the Afghan cricket team but the Afghans' suspicion increased when the team was seen training either in the city of Lahore or at Peshawar's Niazi sports club.

More suspicion was caused by the admission that some of the team members were born in Islamabad, while some said in interviews that they only listen to Pakistani songs. But most Pashtuns in both countries have never accepted the border and all major Pashtun tribes in Afghanistan have relatives in Pakistan. So, in a way, their having been brought up in Pakistan is irrelevant to their sense of loyalty.

But the team's supporters and Pashtuns who follow sport news disregard such tensions in their writing and focus mainly on the ban on playing cricket during the Taliban era. They view the team as a source of pride for Afghanistan and the cause of a change in the country's image in the world. I agree with them that the team's success has been a soothing balm for the wounded pride of all Afghans.

Be this as it may, cricket is not without history in Afghanistan. According to Roy Morgan's encyclopedia of world cricket, the British troops brought cricket to Kabul in 1839. The game was played there for a long time but never attracted Afghan players or audiences. A century and a half later, in 1995, the game returned to Afghanistan via Pakistan and in 2001 the Afghan team became a member of the International Cricket Council. The first Afghan game was played against a local team in Peshawar's gymkhana sport club. In 2003, the team became a member of the Asian Cricket Council and over the last two years it has had many remarkable victories. But still the Afghan capital has neither a cricket training ground nor a proper league. In contrast to cricket, there are plenty of organised and functioning football, volleyball and martial arts leagues operating in Kabul and provincial cities.

Despite all this, the young team is hoping to eventually win the Afghans' trust. Even if Afghans carry on refusing to watch them play or receive them with flowers upon their victorious return from tournaments, the least they can do is to acknowledge them as Afghanistan's national players and love them for it.

Translated by Nushin Arbabzadah

i dont agree that the pushtun make up of the team represents some pashtun conspiracy. it simply because most refugees to pakistan were pashtuns where they picked the game up
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