Afghan cricket falls prey to politics

  • Facebook share
  • Twitter share
  • Linkedin share
  • Pinterest share
  • WhatsaApp share

The Afghanistan national cricket team, being relatively nascent, has been through many ups and downs throughout its 18-year modern history. The team secured official test status in June 2017 after playing a decade and a half of top-class international cricket. Afghanistan is now the 12th test-cricket-playing Full Member nation. Cricket has been played in Afghanistan since the mid-19th century, but it is only in recent years that the national team has become successful. The Afghanistan Cricket Board was formed in 1995 and became an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2001 and a member of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) in 2003. Afghanistan currently ranks as seventh in T20I format and 10th in ODI, as per the ICC world rankings. Afghan team is now in England for the ODI World Cup 2019.

For Afghan cricket, the biggest victory of all came by winning the maiden test match against Ireland in March this year. However, recent happenings within ACB and the team are quite worrisome and considerable.

Political patronage makes its way into Afghan cricket

Despite being a fast achiever, there are several issues hindering the team’s performance now. Already losing to three countries in the current World Cup, Afghan team is now under deep pressure – all because of the recent tensions – and needs the nation’s support to help increase their morale. To put it frankly, this sport is also on its way of indulging in its fair share of political patronage. Nepotism is a potent force if used politically, for which Afghanistan is notorious. But unfortunately, now it has entered into the field of sports as well.

The recent developments and sweeping changes in ACB and team squad portray this perspective well. Not going so far back, the so-called reforms initiated with the appointment of Azizullah Fazli in September 2018, which came in the wake of rifts between players and former ACB head Atif Mashal over the Afghanistan Premier League. Noor Ali Zadran, Shapoor Zadran and several other cricketers, who were not sold in the APL, complained against Mashal and as a result, he was replaced through a presidential decree.

Soon after Fazli’s takeover, Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai was appointed as the chief selector for leading the three-member independent selection committee, replacing Nawroz Mangal. ACB chairman Fazli announced these changes roughly one month after taking power in October, 2018.

Subsequently, Asghar Afghan, con