The rise of Afghanistan cricket is an exceptional phenomenon in the world of sports in the 21st century that has particularly caught the eyes of everyone who knows about the game of cricket. It would have been unimaginable a few years that Afghanistan would be in the list of top 10 countries in all three formats of the game in less than a decade after obtaining ODI status in 2009. This has all been due to the prodigious talent amongst cricketers; tremendous passion for the game; patriotism; and great support of different stakeholders including fans, government, ICC, ACC, and sponsors.
There have also been various challenges along the way putting a hefty responsibility on the shoulders of administrators to manage the expectations of all stakeholders which is not often an easy task in a country where the game of cricket is still relatively new. My appointment as the Chief Executive Officer of the Afghanistan Cricket Board coincided with the completion of an unsuccessful campaign by the Afghanistan National Cricket Team in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales. This made the job more challenging as fans and other stakeholders are disappointed at the results of a team they have cheered and supported throughout the short but a very successful journey so far.
In my tenure as the CEO, the aim is to build on the success of ACB as a successful sports organization delivering desirable results in administration, finance, governance, infrastructure and development of cricket both at domestic and international levels which obviously requires strong teamwork and work ethic from all those involved in the process. As one of the newest Full Member of the International Cricket Council, ACB does not have the optimal level of human and financial resources prompting the need for effective management of resources and exploring new sources of revenue generation. For this reason, it is very important to ensure accountability and transparency in all financial affairs and implement better planning strategies for all small and major events.
Building strong relations with all stakeholders including ICC, ACC, the government of Afghanistan, civil society, media, fans, partners and sponsors is of utmost importance for a bright future of Afghanistan cricket as the contemporary business world requires better integration and more connectivity of all those who have a stake in the process.
Domestic cricket which serves as the backbone of the overall development of the game needs considerable attention to ensure players are exposed to competitive cricket at home before making their way to represent Afghanistan at the international level. Therefore, the right level of investment in domestic cricket in terms of infrastructure, technical development and capacity building of match officials and transparent selection is crucial for the future of the game.
It is a top priority for ACB to provide both financial and technical support to both domestic and centrally contracted players including coaching staff, training facilities, organizing fixtures and ensuring decent compensation packages and we have taken important steps to materialize this by appointing experienced coaching staff for the team. Since the Afghanistan National Cricket Team is currently in a transition period particularly in ODIs after the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup and faced with lack of international fixtures against stronger opposition this year, we have developed a program for development squads including A-Team for exposure to quality cricket and developing and preparing a stronger side to win matches in the ICC ODI League and ultimately qualify for the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup in India.