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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Afghans receive cricket boost
A game of cricket is played in Kabul
Cricket in Afghanistan is presently played on concrete pitches
The International Cricket Council (ICC) and its Asian counterpart (ACC) have commited to develop and promote cricket in Afghanistan.

ACC development officer Iqbal Sikander, who is also representing the ICC, made the pledge on the first official ACC visit to Afghanistan on Tuesday.

"The main reason for this visit was to see as to how cricket can be developed because the international community as yet do not know whether cricket is being played here at all," Sikander said.

"I can assure you of the ICC and the ACC's desire of developing cricket in Afghanistan and hope that together we could develop cricket from the ground level.

"I'm representing both the ACC and the ICC simply because there's been war for the last two decades and no-one wants to come here."

The Afghanistan Cricket Federation (ACF) joined the ACC in June but was already a member of the ICC.

The local government is very keen to see cricket develop
ACC development officer Iqbal Sikander

"Cricket is becoming more popular than ever in Afghanistan and the people are very keen to see and play this game," said ACF founder Allah Dad Noori, described by Sikander as "the father of cricket in Afghanistan".

Sikander met with Afghan and ACF officials to discuss development of the game in the Central Asian country, where it faces tough competition from football and buzkashi, a polo-like game played with a goat carcass.

"They've all been very helpful and co-operative and are keen to see that cricket flourishes in Afghanistan," he said.

"I've had some very constructive meetings with the vice president of Afghanistan, Mr Hedayat Amin Arsala."

Most Afghan cricketers are former refugees who picked up the game in neighbouring Pakistan and brought it back to their homeland where schoolchildren are also starting to play.

Sikander said Kabul mayor Mohammad Anwar Jagdalig would soon allocate land for a cricket ground.

Arsala had also promised to provide a pavilion and changing rooms at the ground while the ACC would help lay up to three pitches and provide rollers.

Afghanistan's under-15, U-17, U-19 and senior teams would be invited to participate in all tournaments being organised by the ACC, with tour expenses paid by the council.


SEE ALSO
Afghans pad up for peace
16 Oct 01  |  Cricket
Cricket in a time of war
10 Oct 01  |  From Our Own Correspondent



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