Senate debates

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Afghanistan: Cricket

6:57 pm

Photo of John FaulknerJohn Faulkner (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

On 3 October this year, Afghanistan recorded a comprehensive seven-wicket win over Kenya at Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium to finish second in the World Cricket League, paving the way for their country's first ICC Cricket World Cup appearance to be played in Australia and New Zealand in February and March 2015. The Afghanistan cricket captain and all-rounder Mohammad Nabi described the win as a gift to a young generation. After their team's historic victory, jubilant fans lined the streets of Kabul and other major cities in Afghanistan, singing and dancing. Large crowds also celebrated inside the Kabul National Cricket Stadium after watching the match on a giant screen. In the past, of course, the Kabul stadium was used by the Taliban for incomparably darker purposes.

Dr Noor Muhammad Murad, CEO of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, recently said that already 5,000 cricket clubs were established across Afghanistan, with 280,000 active participants, but the national team's recent success has caused a surge of interest, with expectations of 1.5 million participants by the end of this year.

This growing support is not just a win for cricket in Afghanistan. The engagement of thousands of young Afghanis in cricket is resulting in very positive knock-on effects in health and education throughout the country. In a recent SBS Radio interview, former Pakistan fast bowler and Afghan cricket team coach, Kabir Khan, said the sport has already had a positive effect on the lives of many Afghan people. He said the team's players felt honoured to offer a positive story about Afghanistan, in contrast to the decades of continuous tragic news coming out of the country. This is a remarkable achievement for the team, for the fans and for Afghanistan. The team has worked very hard, against the odds, and its recent World Cup qualification is the ultimate reward for all that effort.

Afghanistan will play its first World Cup match against Bangladesh at Manuka Oval here in Canberra, followed by other Australian fixtures, including a match against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground and a match against Australia at the WACA in Perth. Of course, these venues will be a world away from the dusty refugee camps of Pakistan, where many Afghanis were introduced to the game.

I am sure all senators would join me in congratulating the Afghan National Cricket team on their recent success, and wish them the best of luck in 2015 for their first appearance at an ICC Cricket World Cup. I believe we should celebrate their success.


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