Experiencing something of a meteoric rise to prominence amongst competitive minnow nations in recent years, Afghanistan have commenced early preparations ahead of the 2015 Cricket World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand.
Largely stifled throughout the late 90’s and early 00’s as various rebel regimes ruled their homeland, cricket had exploded in popularity in Afghanistan over the last decade, seeing the team rise from the fifth division of world cricket in 2008 to qualify fornext year’s World Cup with an impressive run of results in recent lead-in tournaments.
Assisted in development by former Pakistani captain and wicket-keeping sensational Rashid Latif, Afghanistan is shaping as a legitimate contender in major tournaments over the coming years, but will have to remain focused on the task if to bypass the fate of several other notable up-and-comers who were unable to complete the transition into world cricket’s elite group.
“I don’t want them to go down after ascending, like Kenya” Latif told AFP recently.
“I hope the World Cup is not a make-or-break for Afghanistan. Their real cricket will start after the World Cup.”
Aiming to take a page of out the book of Bangladesh, who is the most recent nation to successfully rise through the ranks of world cricket and register as one of ten teams currently granted full membership to the ICC (International Cricket Council), Latif said the Afghanis should target similarly positioned nations in order to build on a balance of skill and respect amongst both the cricketing and homeland communities.
“For me they should target Bangladesh and another qualifier team, but play in a manner that if kids are watching on television back home they can feel proud of them” Latif said.
Having qualified for and contested three Twenty20 World Cups since 2010, Afghanistan will make their One Day World Cup debut in 2015, in what is already arguably their greatest success on the cricket pitch so far.
Given little hope of success in betting markets for the 2014 Cricket World Cup, Afghanistan can currently be taken at generous $1001 odds at Ladbrokes Australia.