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The Future’s So Bright…

Not many people know that this song is not, in fact, a breathless ode to a bright future bursting with possibility and limitless potential, but rather a song about how the 80’s were very likely going to end in nuclear holocaust. That sunglasses-necessitating brightness was going to be the result of a catastrophic atomic detonation destroying all life as we know it (at which point it’s unclear how sunglasses would help all that much, but anyway. 80s rock band lyricists didn’t make their millions off the unshakeable logic of their arguments, after all.)

Despite this, it’s become the go-to anthem for those glorious, inspirational moments when boundless, exhilarating optimism seems not only forgiveable but almost imperative. Moments like the one Afghanistan – and, for the most part, their young wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad – created for themselves about half an hour ago at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, in front of what was almost certainly a small but devoted crowd of fans and almost no-one else.  Yes, they’re only Associates. Yes, they were playing Canada – hardly heavyweight opposition, certainly not in the class of Ireland or even the Netherlands. But here’s what they did: chased down a target of 494 – in a four-day match! In the second innings! – to win with less than three overs to spare.

Less than three overs.

It gets better.

The wicketkeeper I mentioned, Mohammad Shahzad? The one who won it for Afghanistan with a final score of 214 not out? He’s EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD. What were you doing when you were eighteen? Unless you were winning international matches for your country with second-innings (second-innings! The mind, it boggles) double-hundred scores while simultaneously acting as a beacon of hope and unimaginable inspiration for your horrifically war-torn and impoverished country, Mohammad Shahzad is more awesome than you by a factor too high to compute.

I’ve already written (as have others, obviously) about how incredible Afghanistan’s journey has been so far, and with how much grace and spirit they’ve handled themselves on the way up, but it deserves to be said again, and again, and again. Everyone should be talking about them. I should have made the time to go and see them in Sharjah (responsibilities be damned!…ok, maybe not. Still, I’m BITTER. What I wouldn’t have given…!) They’ve done something so spectacular that if you stuck it in an overwrought movie montage a la Chariots of Fire it would actually belong there.

Congratulations, gentlemen. I wish I had been there. Your future is really, truly, so bright at this point that it’s practically bloody incandescent. If there’s any justice, someone will find a better song, one that isn’t actually about nihilism and death, to yoink a headline from about what you’ve accomplished. This one suggested itself almost automatically, but I’ll be damned if I use it without stating categorically that I don’t wish or foresee your future being bright for all the wrong reasons, even if you are from Afghanistan and most days what seems to be in store for your country looks anything but hopeful.

Mohammad Shahzad and Mohammad Nabi: I feel priveleged to have seen you play.

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Getting down

Sarfraz Ahmed and Eoin Morgan go low to a delivery from Shoaib Malik. England v Pakistan, 1st T20 at DSC Cricket Stadium.

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Yeah, it’s another post about me. Sorry.

So I went to this match over the weekend. Given that I’m neither English nor Pakistani, that T20s are my least favourite format of the game by some distance, and that this was one of only two matches in a largely meaningless series, it should not have been a particularly huge deal. Thing is, I don’t get to watch cricket in the flesh, in actual stadia. Like, ever. Doesn’t happen. Hasn’t happened, as a matter of fact, since I was about 9 years old, and I’m in my early twenties now. So even given all those dampening factors, I had been nevertheless bouncing around like an overcaffeinated Red Setter for about a week beforehand.

I went, I watched and I wrote. Specifically, I wrote a Fan Following report for Cricinfo’s Page 2, which you can read here.

I also took approximately 580 photos, a few of which you can see here. I picked the best ones, honest.

You thought I was kidding, didn't you?

Enjoy!

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*Shameless Plug Alert!*

Well, not quite. Maybe? Anyway, while I have still not got around to writing about the Afghanistan v. U.A.E. game for the half-dozen people who would have been interested to read it, I have put up some pictures from the match – of the action in the middle as well as of the fantastic fan presence – on my photo blog. You can see them here.

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Equipment Check

Aleem Dar, Will Porterfield and Simon Smith prepare themselves for the next over. ICC World T20 Qualifiers, Ireland v. Scotland, 11 February 2010

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