Dr Noor Mohammad Murad (left) received the award on behalf of the entire team © Getty Images
Mar 27, 2014
The year 2013 was a landmark year for Afghanistan cricket as they broke new barriers and finally announced themselves on the big stage with the big daddies of the sport. And now they have been truly recognised for their efforts as they won the coveted Laureus Spirit of Sport Award 2014.
After qualifying for their maiden World Cup in 2015, they also qualified for the Asia Cup 2014, but were knocked out of the qualifying stages in the ICC World T20 2014.
“The rapid development of cricket in Afghanistan had been signalled by the country competing in the last two World Twenty20s. But securing a place in the World Cup, the flagship event of the international cricket calendar to be played next year in Australia and New Zealand, was a cause for special celebration”, a Laureus media release stated after the awards.
The statement further added, “Cricket’s history in Afghanistan is thought to have started with the game being played by British troops stationed in Kabul in 1839. However, unlike in so many other countries, no lasting legacy was left by the British and it would be more than a century before cricket returned.”
“It became popular amongst Afghan refugees in Pakistan in the 1990s, and cricket has continued to develop in Afghanistan during years of tremendous change within the country. It is now the fastest growing sport in Afghanistan and, with hundreds of thousands of players and supporters, claims to stand as the largest peaceful movement there.”
The Asian Cricket Council has described Afghanistan as the “rising star of Asian cricket”. And the International Cricket Council (ICC) said, “Afghanistan can now rightly consider itself as one of the leading Affiliate and Associate nations.”
Afghanistan’s success on the pitch has, indeed, captured the imagination of the whole cricketing world. The enthusiasm for the game shown especially by young players, often against almost insurmountable odds in terms of pitches and facilities, is a story being told again and again.
The media release also stated, “The majority of these players are young Afghans from poor families who grew up in refugee camps and small villages. Some had rarely travelled beyond their homes until they began to play cricket.”
“The only common factor amongst them all was their passion for the game and their dream of seeing Afghanistan playing at the international level. That dream is now a reality.”