“Cricket is the solution to all problems.” – Taj Malik, former Afghanistan National Cricket coach, all-round legend.￼
Firstly, set aside 86 minutes of your time to watch the incredibly heart-warming documentary Out of the Ashes, chronicling Afghanistan’s rapid rise through the ICC’s qualification tournaments in the lead-up to the 2010 World T20.
You may have cried man-tears. This is not uncommon.
Nawroz Mangal (captain), Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Izzatullah Dawlatzai, Karim Sadeq, Mohammad Jawed Ahmadi, Mohd Nasim Baras, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Mohammad Asghar Stanikzai, , Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Shapur Zadran.
Natural talent, flair and aggression; wicket-taking bowlers and six-hitters in abundance. Many of Afghanistan’s cricketers learnt the game in refugee camps in Pakistan. and as a result they play much like a baby Pakistan. For obvious reasons they will play ‘no fear’ cricket, and in Hamid Hassan, they have the best associate nation player in the world.
Much like Pakistan, they are prone to a batting collapse when put under pressure and struggle to work the ball around for singles. While they possess some of the strongest Associate players around, the fall-off in quality is pretty sharp and to be brutally honest, some of their starters are passengers at this level.
Players to Watch
Wicket-keeper and opening batsman Mohammed Shahzad is a fearless star in the making, who won’t be intimidated by reputations.
Afghanistan’s talisman Hamid Hassan has returned to the squad after a lengthy lay-off with injury. Hassan would be close to selection in any full member side when fully fit and caused England no end of problems taking 2-26 for the Associate XI in January.
Hassan possesses genuine pace, generated from a run-up similar to Waqar Younis, and has first-class experience with the Pakistani Customs side – which I stress, was not set up in Mohammed Asif’s honour.
In 2010 they lost their group games to India and South Africa. While they never looked like winning a game, Hamid Hassan gave South Africa a few butterflies, dismissing Kallis, Duminy and Boucher and taking 3-21 from his 4 overs.
Zero. The number of people in Afghanistan who will legally be allowed to watch this match on YouTube, which has been banned in the wake of last week’s provocative anti-Islam video.
12.14. Hamid Hassan’s average with the ball in T20Is.
It is unlikely that everyone’s second-favourite side will challenge either India or England, but expect a spirited performance, and for some of their star players to make an impact against some of the game’s finest. Do not rule out the possibility of a few IPL franchises angling for Hamid Hassan.
written by Ian Durrant, aka @thenugget111
Published with permission from Alternative Cricket...cricket for grown-ups.