Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Down to earth for the Afghans

After their second consecutive win in the match against Bermuda, the Afghans have had their World Cup dreams rather punctured by defeats against Kenya and the Netherlands.

As well as leaving their qualification for the Super Eight stage in some doubt - if the Bermudans beat the Dutch in tomorrow morning's round of matches, the Afghans need to win or draw against the UAE - these defeats will be carried through to that stage if the Dutch and Kenyans both qualify, leaving the Afghans needing wins against Associate heavyweights, Ireland, Scotland and Canada, and feature writers wondering when they'll next get such good material (click here to read Will Luke's interview with Afghan batsman, Raees Ahmadzai, about cricket in the refugee camps).

Whether or not there is a fairytale ending to this leg of the Afghan story, their progress could do wonders for the game's development at Associate level, a matter of critical importance in view of the political problems prevailing in Zimbabwe and Pakistan and the stagnation, Shakib Al Hasan aside, of the Bangladeshi national side. Effectively, this leaves seven Test-quality sides still playing reasonably frequently: India, Australia and South Africa on the top table, Sri Lanka not far off, though still starved of regular series against top teams, and England kept off the bottom by generally poor - sportingly and economically - West Indies and New Zealand sides (an analysis borne out by the official ICC rankings).

The recent series between Australia and South Africa may have shown Test cricket at its see-sawing best and Dhoni's India is excitingly consistent, but there is a risk that this will become an isolated spectacle. The Afghans, then, may bring hope for more than one reason.

No comments:

Post a Comment