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Afghans beat British troops in Bastion cricket clash

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A British team, selected from across all three branches of the Armed Forces serving on Operation HERRICK 15, took on a team from the Afghan National Army (ANA) and a team of Afghan interpreters in a two-day series of 20/20 cricket matches at Camp Bastion in front of over 1,500 ANA spectators.

The British Forces Afghanistan team trained for days to prepare for the game against the avid Afghan cricketers, and the three sides sized each other up beforehand in the cricket nets at the ANA’s Camp Shorabak, next to Camp Bastion.

But when the matches started the impressive Afghan teams took British Forces Afghanistan to the cleaners, with victories going to both the ANA and interpreter sides.

The British team were all out for 75 versus the ANA team’s score of 165, much to the rapture of the audience of Afghan soldiers who flooded onto the pitch to congratulate their colleagues.

The British team fared no better against the team of Afghan interpreters, scoring 169 for seven while the interpreters managed 183 all out.

On the second day, the two Afghan sides met in a play-off, with the ANA coming out victorious.

The matches were a huge occasion for all sides. The ANA team played in blue and red uniforms presented on behalf of the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team, which helps with development projects in the region. The British team played in ‘whites’ provided by the Army Cricket Association.

The event was organised by Lieutenant Colonel Tim Law, of 26 Regiment Royal Artillery, who is serving in Afghanistan in the Task Force Helmand headquarters. Lieutenant Colonel Law, aged 42, from Devon, is the vice-chairman of the Army Cricket Association.

He said:

We came to build on the very good relations we have with the ANA, and have a good game. We always knew they would be very good, but it turned out that they are absolutely fantastic and taught us a thing or two.

As sport is a great leveller I hope this game could be the start of a long association with Afghan Army cricket.

The British Forces Afghanistan were led by Captain Andy Kerr, from 35 Engineer Regiment.

Captain Kerr, 44, from Grantham, said:

Our team was of a very good standard, with the minimum being Army Corps-level standard. We have an Irish Premier League player and a couple of really good club-level players.

Cricket is a great leveller and brings communities together, and that’s what we have seen in Afghanistan. They have a fledgling national team that is definitely on the rise, and through cricket we can put our hand out. It’s not about winning, it is about taking part.

Lieutenant Colonel Law presented cricket equipment to Afghan Sergeant Major Saraj Udin, who accepted the gift on behalf of the ANA. Sergeant Major Udin said:

For these gifts and for every aspect of your support, thank you. The British have supported us on every other aspect so thank you for supporting us in sport.

One of the spectators in the stands was ANA Corps Commander General Malouk, the most senior Afghan National Army soldier in Helmand province. He said:

There is a very good competition going on, a competition played in friendship. It is good that British and Afghan soldiers are able to spend quality time working together.

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Published 5 March 2012