27 Oct 2008

ICC rewards Afghanistan's winning run with funding

12:55 pm on 27 October 2008

The International Cricket Council has pledged vital funds for Afghanistan's fledgling team after it won a tournament that could pave the way for a 2011 World Cup berth.

The international governing body made the decision last week as part of its incentive programme designed to reward nations new to the sport that have shone in regional tournaments.

Allah Daad Noori, the head of Afghanistan's Cricket Federation, says it will receive between hundreds of thousands of dollars from the International Cricket Council.

Afghanistan went unbeaten in two World Cup qualifying tournaments this year, the second of which was the ICC World Cricket League Division 4 in Tanzania, where they clinched a place in next January's Division 3 competition in Argentina.

The top two sides from the six nations competing there will progress to the 12-team ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, from which the four semi-finalists will advance to the 2011 finals.

The help from the ICC is a major boost for the Afghan team which is plagued by a shortage of funds and facilities in a country devastated by three decades of war.

Cricket is still relatively new in Afghanistan, a country which unlike neighbouring imperial India was never colonised by the British.

The growth of cricket in Afghanistan is instead an unexpected by-product of the 1980s Soviet occupation as millions of Afghans fled to Pakistan and picked up the sport in refugee camps there.