THE WORLD STUDENTS SOCIETY - rises to give the great and brave people of Afghanistan - a standing, and many rounds of ovation

AFGHANISTAN JOINED THE International Cricket Council two years ago. In that brief period of time, it has developed such expertise, self-confidence and competitive bravado -

That out of the nine matches played against seasoned  world class teams, it never scored less than three digits. Against England 247 runs; against New Zealand, 172 runs; against West Indies a creditable 288 runs, and against Pakistan, 227  losing by only three wickets.

Its new found excellence blossomed in a young 18-year-old Ikram Ali Khalil. He had played one  Test match before, during which he managed only 7 runs.

At Headingley, playing against the West Indies, he scored the fastest 80-plus runs, superseding Sachin Tendulkar's record that, that had held since 1992.

How does a team of Afghan winnows achieve such fierce competence within such a short space of time? Where in Afghanistan are the camouflaged cricket facilities, the hidden stadiums, pitches un-pitted by US missiles where these Afghan players practised?

IF THERE is any country in the world that is entitled to adopt the phoenix as its national symbol, it is Afghanistan.

Consider. It has suffered a history of gratuitious devastation, ever since the ill-fated foray by the  British Army of the Indus in 1839. Despite the ravages caused by British during the 19th-century, by 1900 its amir retained enough authority to treat the British agent at Kabul with humiliating condescension.

My ancestor Fakir Iftikharuddin served as British Agent at Kabul from 1907 - 1910. He complained to his government that his life was ''very unpleasant and uncomfortable - no one is allowed to meet him or talk to him.''

''In fact,'' he concluded, ''the life of a British Agent is no better than a political prisoner.''

By the late 20th century, the tables had turned. Afghanistan became a war zone for powers like  Russia and later the United States and its coalition of compliant states. They needed a proving ground for their over-equipped, underemployed armed forces.

The Russians spent nine years in Afghanistan, and quit after learning the costly lesson that Muscovite might is not always right.

In the vacuum left by Russia's departure in 1989, the United States decided that it should rush in where the Russians had bled to death,

Under the banner of  Operation Enduring Freedom, it comandeered contingents from over 20 coerced accomplices - Nato, EU countries, New Zealand, even Montenegro, and Lithuania.

After 13 years of inconclusive fighting, in 2014, the US decided to change its banner to read  Operation Freedom's Sentinel. To the Afghans, the renaming did not render US weaponry less lethal.

Over almost 18 years, the US-led forces {2001 - 19} have remained mired in Afghanistan, the casualties of the US-led forces are about 3,500. In contrast, even more than 1,405, 000 Afghans [some estimates say 2,084 500] have died, though no one is sure of the tally.

It is ironical that three stabbings in London streets can release a violent remonstrance from President Donald Trump against the mayor of London, but the death of  one million Afghans either way does not ruffle his blond quiff.

And yet, it is from the ashes of this apocalyptic devastation than an unlikely phoenix has emerged - a team of Afghan cricketers .

In the World Cup 2019, this 11 made a mockery of the very countries whose soldiers were slaughtering their kinsmen in Afghanistan. It is to the credit of the Afghan team that they did not allow politics to banish sportsmanship.

They could with justification have worn black armbands when playing teams from countries which had or still have troops in Afghanistan. They chose not to.

They challenged England and its former colonies in their own game - Cricket.

The Afghan team should be lauded as the heroes they are. No laurels are great or green enough for them.

It is said that the US and its coalition forces will soon withdraw from Kabul. And after years, and years of carnage, what will they leave behind?

A ravaged fifth-world country - and a world class, finest cricket team, that the world was blessed enough to watch, in great fighting glory.

The World Students Society thanks most graciously researcher and author F.S. Aijazuddin.

With respectful dedication to Leaders, Students, Professors and Teachers of the World. See Ya all on Facebook, prepare and register on The World Students Society: wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - the Ecosystem 2011:

'''Phoenix & Phantoms'''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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