An exclusive interview with Taj Malik- Afghan Cricket
From Kabul to Quennevais
By Daniel Corden
The Afghanistan team will be one of 12 taking part in the ICC World Division 5 tournament in Jersey.
Friday, 23 May sees the start of the ICC World Cricket Division 5 tournament here in Jersey.
There are 12 teams competing for a place in the next rounds, and then hopefully the World Cup.
While we may worry about rain delays, or the odd stray cow running onto the field, one of the countries that is coming to play is war ravaged Afghanistan.
For some of their team it will be the first time they have left Afghanistan, or even seen the sea.
Cricket is a fast growing sport in Afghanistan, with over 12,000 players, but unfortunately Afghanistan is more known for the War on Terror and bombs.
Taj Malik is the Afghanistan national team coach and BBC Jersey’s Daniel Corden spoke to him over a rather noisy international mobile.
You can read the interview in full below:
BBC: Are the players very excited about coming to Jersey?
Taj: We are very keen to come there.
BBC: The people of Jersey only see what’s on television, the war and things like that. Is that what it’s like in Kabul at the moment?
Taj: In Kabul at the moment there is no problem. We are practising.
BBC: It was only in the 1980s when the Russians left that cricket became big in Afghanistan.
Taj: When the Russians came to Afghanistan many thousands and millions of people moved to Pakistan and other parts of the world and got interested in the game and playing also.
Now the number of players increased during the past five or six years and we’ve established our national cricket team which is a very good rising star team.
I’m sure when we’re playing the Jersey tournament the people of Jersey will like their playing style and cricketing skill.
BBC: Do the team know they’re ranked favourites in the competition?
Taj: Yeah the team know that. The team have been on very good form over the last four months after the Twenty20 Asian cricket tournament.
They’re in full confidence and very keen to get first position in Jersey.
There are strong opposition over there like Nepal, America and Norway looks like a good side.
This is a very good opportunity for my players to show their cricket standards and their ability in this ICT tournament.
BBC: You mentioned America. What do the players think of the possibility of playing the USA team?
Taj: They’re very excited. America is a very popular country in the world, a superpower.
To be able to beat them would be very exciting for everybody because America is an economic power with lots of sports facility and in the Olympic games they’re on top.
This is a very good chance and in cricket we could beat them. Our pleasure if we win the match, I’m sure many people here would be keen to see the Afghanistan team beat America on the international stage.
BBC: How important is cricket in Afghanistan?
Taj: Four months ago we won the Twenty20 cup in Kuwait and that was a major achievement in Afghanistan history.
Now they’re really looking forward and are all behind the team. There’s a lot of media interest as well and everybody is supporting Afghanistan to see Afghanistan become champions once again.
BBC: In Jersey we have six different fields we’ll be playing on with lush green grass. I’m sure that’s very different to the grounds you play on in Afghanistan.
Taj: I hope so yeah. My fast bowlers are very keen to bowl there. I have a very balanced team of fast bowling attack and leg-breaking left bowlers.
Everything is looking very nice for us and we are very keen to come to Jersey.