A Global Cricketing Showdown with a difference
Attention Sports Editors
New Zealand will host a Global Cricketing Showdown with a difference .
It will be a first for international cricket, when England meets meteoric minnows Afghanistan in the Under 19 World Cup in Christchurch this summer.
Afghanistan sealed its place in this tournament by coming second to Ireland in the World Cup qualifier in Canada .They surprised the Cricketing world by beating much more fancied teams such as the USA, Hong Kong and the Netherlands.
The Under 19 team have even done one better than the National Afghanistan side, which just missed out on qualifying for the 2011 World Cup earlier this year.
There is no official cricket ground in Kabul and the National team is made up of Afghans from refugee camps across the border in Pakistan. The Afghan team ,in interviews with cricketing websites, claim they have achieved all this through their own sheer determination and self belief.
At this stage the Under 19 team is also being talked about as a potential giant killer in the 19 World Cup.
British Cricket has supported Afghanistan’s cricket teams as part of the country’s drive towards rebuilding their nation after years of civil war.
England will be Afghanistan’s second game on January 18 as the Afghan team will open the tournament playing the current Under 19 champions India.
The Christchurch tournament will be something of a homecoming for English all rounder Ben Stokes who was born in Christchurch. Ben is currently playing with the county side Durham.
After the game, a reception is being hosted by the British High Commission for teams, officials and guests. There will be a presentation made to the Afghan team of a cricket bat signed by the current English national team.
Notes to editors:
• The U19 team reached the world cup after coming second in the qualifying round in Canada
• A member of the England Team was born in Christchurch.He is Ben Stokes, whose father is Rugby League coach Gerard Stokes who currently currently coaches Whitehaven in Cumbria .He also once coached Rugby League in Christchurch
• The Afghanistan National side had a maiden tour in England 2006. Ditchley a Sussex village team played in Kabul earlier this year.
• The National eleven , now an internationally recognised ODI team and will receive funding from ICC ,have no national cricket ground. The team has expressed a wish to play Australia, England, and South Africa
• Support for Afghan cricket has been forthcoming from the MCC and the charity, Afghan Connection. They have developed a network of schools which have brought cricket to 26,000 school children across Afghanistan