Afghanistan haven’t scored too many runs, but that’s not really the point at this stage, is it?

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The Afghanistan cricket team in Jersey (via YouTube)

Remember Out of the Ashes? It’s a documentary about Afghanistan’s journey “from war to the World Cup”. We reviewed it here and thought it was rather wonderful.

It strikes us that it could do with an update because Afghanistan are a Test team now. This is a highly astonishing state of affairs.

If you’d asked us 15 years ago how likely it was that Afghanistan would become a Test team by 2018, here is a list of things that we would have rated as being more likely.

  • Pretty much everything

They’re not an especially good Test team going by the scorecard for their inaugural Test, but then Afghanistan’s rate of improvement is so steep that you wouldn’t bet against them were this a five match series.

It isn’t of course, but they’ll play more Tests and at some point they’ll win. We know this because Afghanistan’s superpower is that losing games gives them strength.

For now, it’s enough that they’re playing at all. As Afghanistan’s then minister of finance, Dr Omar Zakhilwal, said back in 2016 ahead of their first one-day international: “There is nothing that can touch cricket in popularity or as a force for good in Afghanistan. There is absolutely nothing else that mobilises our society in the same way.”


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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    1. We’re currently just willing them to reach three figures in their second innings.

      It’s 98-9.

      Come on!

      (We’re really quite desperate that this happens.)

      1. Sides that have been bowled out for <100 in tests in 2018:


        Sides that haven't been bowled out for <100 in tests in 2018:

        Everybody else

      2. Afg have been very naive in their approach, which is understandable.
        My feeling, is that bowling is more to do with natural talent and afg bowlers will do better, but test match batting is more of a mindgame unless you are as talented as Kevin Pietersen. Witness woeful batting of west indies and inconsistent batting of Bangladesh, Pakistan etc. I think Afghan batting will not improve much in Tests, for the foreseeable future

      3. Not really the thrust of your point at all, but KP’s approach to batting was overwhelmingly mental. The mechanics of how he answered some questions was a lesser strength.

  1. I can confirm that Tim Albone (director of Out of the Ashes) is an absolutely 100% cast-iron smashing chap.

  2. Afghanistan have a bowling attack which isn’t too far off some of the other Test bowling attacks out there, especially considering Rashid and Mujeeb are both still so young.

    The batting needs work of course, but it was never going to be easy against Ashwin and Jadeja bowling at home.

    If I can be the first to criticise Afghanisthan’s batting order choices, why on earth would you send Nabi in at 7? He’s clearly their best batsman.

    1. Oh yeah, we would have been in meltdown. Big teams do get embarrassed by losses to smaller teams.

  3. Amazing that Nabi has now played both Test cricket and in World Cricket League Division 5, which I remember blogging about more than a decade ago.

    Hopefully that link works, I’m typing on my phone on a juddery train in Lancashire.

    1. Takuro Hagihara must look back on his 5/25 against Afghanistan as the highlight of his cricketing life. Japan would make a great country for Test matches – not a bad climate for it and with all those mountains around I’m sure they would manage some very picturesque stadia.

      Looking back at the other teams from that tournament, also a shame that USA and Nepal haven’t really pushed on like Afghanistan have managed.

  4. On seeing your link from 3 February 2011 promoting the DVD of Out Of The Ashes, my immediate reaction was to think, “I don’t recall KC doing that. Why don’t I recall KC doing that?”

    Then I realised the date, which was while Daisy and I were travelling around the Central Plains of India. Specifically it was three days before this “famous” incident, reported fully on KC back then.

    Indeed, on reviewing my diary from that trip, I realise that we were specifically in Kanker that day and that we played our first impromptu cricket match with Jolly and some riverside locals the day before you published your Out Of the Ashes report. I never got round to writing a match report on that fine match – must put that right soon enough – as I do have sufficient notes and some good pictures thanks to Daisy.

    1. Meanwhile, comments are now closed on your Out Of the Ashes piece, but if they were still open I would have written:

      Yes, yes, yes! It is a fabulous film. Daisy and I went to see it a few months ago [October or November 2010] at the ICA and thought it was a heart-rending story, full of sadness, joy and hope:

      …and of course you are right – I would not have expected Afghanistan to have test status by 2018 but I am jolly glad they have it. I have a feeling they’ll get quite a lot better at test cricket rather quickly. India was a seriously tough first gig.

  5. They should’ve performed much better than they did.

    They’re going to get away with terrible selections because of how great their story is, but losing a Test match in two days is a terrible advertisment for all the hard work that not only they, but every team that spends years in the ICup have put in.

    Most of their team could not be called their best first-class team. In fact, most of their team has spent 2018 played limited overs cricket, especially T20 cricket, and did not feature in the most recentl domestic first-class season. Selectors deserve far more scrutiny than they will get.

    1. I know it doesn’t seem to be the modern way, but I rather like a tie remaining a tie, unless the competition absolutely needs a winner at that stage (e.g. knockout stages of a cup tournament).

      1. In the future, when T12 is introduced, I propose that the super over should be done with immediately after the toss, so that there are no more ties.

      2. Quite agree – I do think that if the two teams are level after the full complements of overs have been completed, the match really deserves the epithet of “tied”. It’s earned it, in a way that a match decided by twelve super-balls of a super-over hasn’t really earned the epithet “victory” or “defeat”.

  6. I tried to post some trivia of my own yesterday but was denied by malign influences beyond my control. Shannon Gabriel’s heroic efforts in taking 13-121 against Sri Lanka would, had his team gone on to lose, have been the best-ever match analysis for a playing finishing on the losing side.

    1. Nope, I still cannot post a link. You’ll just have to google it for proof of this majestic nearly stat!

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