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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Putting Afghanistan on cricket's map
By Sam Lyon

Hamid Hassan
To walk out at such a prestigious ground alongside such fantastic cricketers is an honour

Hamid Hassan

Hamid Hassan became the first Afghan cricketer to turn out for the MCC at Lord's on Thursday.

As a young but fast-improving cricket nation, Afghanistan are striving to put their massive domestic problems to one side and become a force among the elite.

And 20-year-old Hassan's selection against a Europe XI at the home of cricket is another step forward for a country that hopes to qualify for the 2011 World Cup.

"I am hugely proud and very excited," Hassan told BBC Sport. "It is absolutely a dream come true.

"To walk out at such a prestigious ground alongside such fantastic cricketers is an honour."

Former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns and ex-England batsman John Stephenson were among those playing alongside Hassan.

And, with the ringing endorsement of Mike Gatting - who says Hassan has "huge potential" - behind him, the youngster was keen to make an impression.

"I want to show that, regardless of your origins or obstacles that may face you, you can be a success if you put your mind to it.

"I know where I was 12 months ago and I know how lucky I have been to have had advice and guidance from so many brilliant people.

I want to show that, regardless of your origins or obstacles that may face you, you can be a success

Hamid Hassan

"Now I want to show what I can do. I hope to develop my game, maybe with a second XI county side in the future, and repay the faith shown in me by some brilliant people."

So could his journey end with an appearance at the 2011 World Cup?

"That would be amazing, and Afghan cricket is really on the up," says Hassan.

"There is a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes and the aim is to put ourselves up there alongside Associate teams like Ireland and Bermuda.

"That is the dream and that is what we're working towards."

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