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For MCC, Afghanistan is safer than Pakistan
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London Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) are contemplating a tour of Afghanistan, the club’s president said on Wednesday, indicating that a visit to the war-torn nation was more likely than a trip to neighbouring Pakistan.
MCC, which owns Lord’s Cricket Ground, known globally as the “home of cricket”, has played its part in supporting Afghan cricket by helping provide pitches in the capital Kabul, organising fixtures against the national side and coaching players.
Touring teams from the club, which used to run English cricket but still retains worldwide responsibility for the sport’s Laws or rules, usually comprise former professional cricketers alongside promising club players.
“I am going to Afghanistan to look at Kabul and the cricket pitches we have put in,” MCC president Phillip Hodson told BBC radio’s Test Match Special programme on Wednesday. “Then I will go to Lahore as a private citizen.
“I think there is much more chance of taking a team to Afghanistan than there is to Pakistan. I think we could do something in Afghanistan and I don’t think it will be long away.”
Afghanistan is an emerging country in cricket terms and its national team has made dramatic progress in recent years, going from the equivalent of a standing start to competing alongside the sport’s leading teams.
This month Afghanistan again qualified for the 2012 World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, having competed in the 2010 edition in the West Indies.
Many Afghan players learnt how to play the game as refugees in Pakistan, after fleeing decades of violence, first during the armed insurrection against the Russian occupation, then during the regime of the Taliban.
Pakistan is a fully-fledged Test nation but the country has been a “no-go area” for major international cricket since an armed terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus during a Test match in Lahore in March 2009.
Pakistan now play their “home” fixtures in the United Arab Emirates.
Further details of touring plans may emerge after the MCC’s annual general meeting in May but any trip will come against a backdrop of continued attacks against British troops serving as part of the US-led NATO force in Afghanistan.
Two British soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province by an Afghan lieutenant on Monday.
Concern is growing about so-called green on blue attacks with 16 NATO troops killed by their Afghan colleagues since January – more than one in six of the 91 foreign soldiers to have died in Afghanistan so far this year.