No we aren’t talking about any movie but about the reality in which each and every member of an international cricket team has to live by every day. This is about the Afghanistan national cricket team which has made quite a name for itself in the world stage with their sudden rise from rags to riches and also producing some world class cricketers and has been the prime example for every sporting team to look forward to and learn that when you have the courage and determination to struggle for success no matter what the situation is, your hustle will one day get you to the places where no one ever could have imagined you, and one day you would be standing atop the world and every one would know your name and praise you for your achievements.
The story of cricket in Afghanistan is no less than a fairy tale as their emergence in the world of cricket is one of the most inspiring stories that any sport can offer. A country which gets it cricketing roots from 1839 when the British troops introduced the game to the afghan soil much similarly to how cricket originated in the fellow subcontinents which was then under British rule but unlike their neighbors the game didn’t have much popularity among the locals and was almost dead in the region. It took a hundred long years for cricket to mark its return to the sporting map of Afghanistan. The year was 1995 when the Afghanistan cricket federation was established and in 2001 became an affiliate member of the ICC, which was only one of a very few or no positives that happened during that period in the war torn country.
This was just a beginning as the game started to gain popularity among the locals and by each passing day Afghanistan cricket was finding ways to elevate themselves to a world which they had never explored before. The basement was set when the first taste of glory in international level knocked the doors of Afghanistan cricket and its citizens when they became joint champions ACC T20 trophy held in Kuwait from where there was no turning back for the Afghans as they marched on achieving greater heights in cricket. Afghanistan saw a significant rise in their ranks in international cricket with their blazing performances in the ICC world division leagues which in return gifted them with an ODI status from ICC in 2009, winning the world T20 qualifiers in 2010 which paved way to a first ever appearance in a global event by participating in the 2010 T20 world cup followed by another T20 world cup appearance in 2014 and ultimately earning a spot in the 2015 ICC cricket World cup in 2015 jointly held in New Zealand and Australia where they emerged as a team that showed glimpses of becoming a dominant cricket side in the future. The continuous struggle and hard work not just in the senior men’s category but also in the junior levels especially the U-19s and formation of a senior women’s cricket team paved way for a historic moment in 2017 when ICC granted Afghanistan the full membership and also awarded them the test status making Afghanistan cricket team one of the 12 elite forces in world cricket to have the privilege of playing test cricket.
All this without even having an opportunity to play their matches in their homeland which was in continuous war and where situations of turmoil occurred every now and then. Cricket was not just a sport for the people of Afghanistan but was a ray of hope for its citizens in a country which was at war for the past three decades and even now hasn’t known what peace and independence is. This is where cricket bought them happiness and an opportunity to connect to the world outside Afghanistan and giving a sense of motivation and inspiration among the citizens of the nation that one day everything will be alright. Currently afghan cricket is well placed among the top sides in world cricket and are continuously showing intends of becoming a formidable side with each passing year but unfortunately the current situations of Afghanistan may change the course of the sport in the country for worse and people fear losing the one major source of happiness which is cricket.
Then again this is a country which has always shown fighters mentality and their high spirits has always lifted them back up whenever they have fallen which means that these bunches of people know how to dodge or handle difficulties and most importantly stand back up every damn time they are beaten and pressed against the wall. We as sports fans can only wait and hope that this fighting spirit of the people in Afghanistan and their cricketers never put their guard down and keep hustling fighting every bad situation and continue to rise in the world of cricket and keep producing world class talents like Rashid Khan and Mohammed Nabi who possess the passion and grit of every other Afghan citizen to keep on fighting until their goal is achieved.
One thing is assured that come what may giving up is not an option and it has never been for the people of Afghanistan and their cricket.