Afghan pacer Naveen-ul-Haq has given stock of his fellow cricketers' situation in Kabul amid a violent takeover by the Taliban. Haq said there is distress in most of the communication he receives from home and occasional assurances from the insurgents that they won't "trouble" any athelete haven't helped either.
Naveen-ul-Haq, who has played 15 internationals for Afghanistan, recorded his comments in an interaction on a BBC radio interview broadcast. He further remarked that the only positive news he hears from home is about cricket, which is "more than a game" for the restive country's people.
“The fear is there in their eyes, in their voices, even in their messages. The Taliban have said (they) won’t be troubling any sportsman, but nobody knows... If you find positive news, if you see people happy together, it’s only cricket... that brings it to the country. It’s that important to Afghanistan. It’s more than a game for Afghanistan’s people," said Haq, speaking from the West Indies where he plays in the Caribbean Premier League.
Cricket is considered to be popular among Tailban circles but that doesn't placate the players' fear for their freedoms and lives. The future of stakeholders in other forms of entertainment is more chilling, given the memories of the insurgents' past record in the country.
"Can't say I'll be fully focussed on playing cricket" - Naveen-ul-Haq
Naveen-ul-Haq, who'll play for Guyana Amazon Warriors in the CPL from August 26, said given the situation in his country, he won't be able to focus fully on cricket whenever he steps onto the field.
“You forget about it for a minute or two to focus on cricket but it jumps into your mind again. I can’t say that I will be fully focused on playing only cricket because you can’t when you see your country like that," Haq concluded.