Need some inspiration? What do you know about cricket in Afghanistan…

When a movie is finally made about Afghanistan's cricket journey the protagonist for any epic would have to be Mohammad Nabi, writes the former Head of Global Development for the ICC, Tim Anderson

ICC Gulbadin

A highlight of my “old life” was having the opportunity to work closely with Afghanistan Cricket.

Here’s a stroll down memory lane via an ESPNCricinfo article from 2012.

Afghanistan haven’t played well so far in this ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup, but did push India all the way over the weekend. Which is no mean feat.

Afghanistan’s performances cannot, however, be simply viewed in terms of wins and losses. The real story is in the backstory and – in a Million Dollar Arm meets Slumdog Millionaire kind of way – I’m sure screenplays will be written and actors procured for a major motion picture that will one day tell us all about it.

The hero would have to be Mohammad Nabi. A former national captain, he is now a regular on the international T20 circuit – the IPL and Hyderabad Sunrisers one day, the BBL and Melbourne Renegades the next. But we forget that life hasn’t always been so rosy.

Mohammad Nabi

He’s had to endure a lifetime of war (that’s real war – guns, bullets, IEDs, suicide bombers, friends/family displaced or killed, the Taliban etc.) like all Afghans do. But just to spice things up a bit more, his father was kidnapped in 2013. Thankfully, he was safely returned after three months.

Can you imagine this? The reality I mean, not the movie script.

I live a privileged life. Nice suburb, nice car, nice job, nice schools, nice shops. And I feel safe nearly all the time. But like many in Australia, I’m surrounded by a variety of “first world problems”, not to mention the growing scourge of anxiety and depression.  

My daughter’s school principal is big on instilling resilience in the kids. I think he’s spot on. Blowing small issues out of proportion appears to have become a national pastime, with the detrimental effect that we forget the bigger picture. And for most of us, our privileged place in the said bigger picture is pretty darn good.

So, perhaps the next time you’re wrapped up in your own issues and need some inspiration, do a quick google search on Afghanistan Cricket or Mohammad Nabi. Or you could wait for the movie.

The remnants of a hijacked airplane mark the boundary of a cricket field in Kabul.  Credit: Asian Cricket Council

And just for the record, despite Afghanistan losing to India, our hero picked up 2 for 33 off 9 overs and top scored with 52 off 55 balls. I’m not sure how Nabi wasn’t Man of the Match – India’s Jasprit Bumrah was with 2 for 39 off 10 overs – but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care.


Tim Anderson is a senior sports executive with significant experience in market development, strategic change and international relations. He was with the ICC for almost 14 years, over 7 over them as Head of Global Development

As the Managing Director of Anderson Advisory International (AAI) Pty Ltd, he works with sports governing bodies, player’s associations, sports businesses, commercial partners and government agencies as they attempt to navigate the growing and increasingly complex sports marketplace.


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