Following Afghanistan’s qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, the ICC Board at its London meeting this week has approved a major financial boost to cricket in the country. The Board approved a recommendation to increase the assistance provided to Afghanistan cricket through the Targeted Assistance Performance Programme (TAPP) by USD 1.1m.
That comes on top of the $US 422,000 awarded to the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) by the ICC in April, aimed at raising playing standards, in preparation for the 2015 World Cup.
“We are very grateful to the ICC for this increased and much needed support,” Dr Noor Mohammad Murad, CEO of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), said after the announcement, “the funding will have a major impact on our national team’s performance, but it will also have a positive impact upon Afghanistan cricket generally.”
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson told Gulf News: “The ICC is delighted to be playing a part in that growth through not only the preparation grant, which also goes to the other qualifiers for the ICC Cricket World Cup, but also through the TAPP funding and the coverage we have been able to help provide through the broadcasting of matches during the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship.”
“The ACB’s underlying goal for the use of this additional funding,” Dr Murad said, “will be continuing to raise our playing standards in preparation for the ICC World Cup 2015. There is no doubt that this extra support will help us to level the playing field a little as we meet the world’s greatest cricketing nations in that tournament.”
“Our broader goal, however, is to ensure that we continue to develop that elite performance level in an enduring, sustainable way in the longer term.”
“The funding will target the creation of more international competitive playing opportunities with other Associate and Full ICC member countries. This is an essential element in terms of raising our performance level. We need the challenge of playing against the major cricketing countries as we work toward being a part of the elite level of international cricket.”
“The extra support will also enable us to work on player performance issues including our fitness programmes and technical playing skills.”
“In order to ensure sustainability, the ACB will build the skills and capacity of new and potential elite players as well as working on building the capacity of key performance support staff and our coaching delivery.”
Cricket, which has had a remarkable growth over the past 12 years in Afghanistan, is now riding on the crest of a wave of support and interest inside the country. Tens of thousands of people brought Kabul to a standstill as they welcomed home the national cricket team last week after it qualified for the World Cup 2015. Many thousands more watched the event televised live on TV across the country.
International matches are now being regularly telecast live in Afghanistan and are attracting audiences in the millions.