KARACHI, Sept 12: An official of Afghanistan Cricket Federation (ACF) claimed on Friday that there was a great future ahead for cricket in their country and it was emerging as second popular sport after football.
“Despite lack of cricketing facilities in Kabul and other cities the game was growing fast” general manager of ACF Abdul Khalil Baig said in an interview at Customs Sports Complex where his youth team had over three- hour training session at Rashid Latif Cricket Academy under watchful eye of Pakistan skipper Rashid Latif.
He said currently more than 10,000 youngsters in various age groups were playing cricket in Kabul, Jalalabad, Khandar, Panjsher, Logar and Takhar.
At tender age of 18, Khalil is trying to build sport in his country’s cricket in guidance from ACF President Shahzada Masood, an advisor to President Hamid Karzai. Vice President of Afghanistan Hidayat Amin Arsala is the President of ACF.
A student of Peshawar Model School, Khalil said he and other Afghan boys picked the game during their stay in Peshawar.
He was disappointed that his boys could not play in Asian Youth in Karachi in July because they were only awarded Asian Cricket Council membership on June 14.
He said currently they (Afghan team) are playing on concrete pitches in Kabul and other areas but expressed the hope that with support and assistance from International Cricket Council (ICC) they will be soon be forthcoming for preparing a turf wicket in Kabul.
Khalil appreciated the role of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in building their cricket. He said by participation twice in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy grade-II they learnt a lot.
He said an ACC representative and former Pakistan International cricketer Iqbal Sikander visited Kabul a few months back and trained and coached local cricketers which he said, benefitted them a lot.
Khalil said they (Afghanistan) got a number of cricketers and pointed out that Afghanistan had a couple of boys, who he said were close to as fast as Pakistan speed merchant Shoaib Akhtar.
“If they get specialised training and coaching these raw speedster can be groomed within a couple of years” he maintained.
He lauded Pakistan skipper Rashid Latif for coaching his boys at RLCA during their short trip. He said they approached Rashid on internet and he responded positively.
He expressed the hope that his boys, majority of whom are under-17 years of age will utilise the opportunity to full extent to improve their game.—APP