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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 16:41 GMT
Hopes for prosperity in peace
Afghanistan was accepted as an ICC affiliate nation in June
A BBC Sport Online special correspondent in Pakistan speaks to cricketers from neighbouring Afghanistan, who hope the game will flourish with the fall of the Taleban.

As the sun sets on the extremism of Taleban, Afghan cricketers hope for more cricket and for greater recognition.

"Afghanistan is free from a hard-line regime and besides other walks of lives we expect sports especially cricket will prosper in the Northern Alliance regime," says national team captain Allah Dad Noori.

We hope that the Northern Alliance will take a sports minister and that sports will flourish in Afghanistan
Afghanistan captain Allah Dad Noori
Cricketers were not spared the strictures of the Taleban regime.

"Initially we played indoors and when we did come out in the field, we were not allowed to have our pictures taken and they didn't want us to join the international fray," says Noori.

Tour success

The Afghanistan team arrived in Pakistan in the first week of October to play in the non-first-class Qauid-e-Azam Trophy.

And there was great media interest in the wake of the 11 September attacks on the United States, and the military action that followed.

The Afghan side pause for prayers during play
Afghanistan took part in a recent tournament in Pakistan
But only four players returned home, while others stayed back in Pakistan.

Afghanistan lost three of their five matches and drew two - not a discouraging result considering the strengths of Pakistani regional teams.

Noori, a fast bowler, took nine wickets against Swat and figures of four for 47 against Haripur - both considered good teams in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.

Middle order batsman Mohammad Alam had innings of 85, 71, 26 and 28 while Shafiur Rehman top-scored with a valiant 95.

"We hope that the new regime of the Northern Alliance will take a sports minister and that sports will flourish in Afghanistan," Noori says.

International acceptance

If the country's National Olympic Committee is reformed, Afghanistan could feature in the 2004 Games in Athens.

And Noori hopes that international acceptance for other sports will further cricket's claims.

There is peace and liberty in Afghanistan and we hope that cricket will gain more roots
Development manager Haji Wali Mohammad
Pakistan helped them in their neighbours in the promotion of the game and, with Pakistan's support, the International Cricket Council granted affiliate membership to Afghanistan in June.

Development manager Haji Wali Mohammad believes interim government's backing coupled with ICC's kindness can help Afghanistan become a cricket nation of repute.

"We have a broken infrastructure and need some support from both the government and ICC," Mohammad says.

"The dark period is over now. There is peace and liberty in Afghanistan and we hope that cricket will gain more roots."

Football was the most popular sport in Afghanistan until refugees who returned from Pakistan in 1996 and 1997 introduced cricket there.

Youths playing cricket with bricks as stumps is a common sight in Afghanistan.

With the arrival of peace, perhaps cricket will finally flourish.

See also:

15 Oct 01 |  Cricket
Afghans begin cricket tour
16 Oct 01 |  Cricket
Afghans pad up for peace
10 Oct 01 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Cricket in a time of war
19 Jun 01 |  Cricket
Aghanistan gains ICC recognition
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