The trophy arrived at Kabul International Airport on an early morning flight from Dubai on Wednesday 26 December where it was welcomed by Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) officials and staff including Chairman Azizullah Fazli, players from the national team, Head of Senate Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, and a sprinkling of Afghanistan fans.
On the first day of the trophy tour, ACB Patron-in-Chief and President of Afghanistan, His Excellency Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, hosted an ACB delegation at the presidential palace, during which he emphasised the Afghan people’s love for the game of cricket, and offering his hope that one day Afghanistan will win the World Cup and that the trophy be brought to Afghanistan permanently.
The trophy was also displayed at the historic Darul Aman Palace, which was built in the early 20th century and used by the former King of Afghanistan, Ghazi Amanullah Khan. The day ended with a celebration event at the National Radio and Television Hall that was attended by ACB board members and top management, as well as high-ranking government officials, civil society members, media representatives and fans.
On the second day of the tour, the trophy was then flown to central Bamyan province, which is known for its historical sites including the Buddhas of Bamyan. The trip to Bamyan started with an event organised in partnership between the ACB and the provincial government of Bamyan.
It was attended by various stakeholders including an ACB delegation, players, provincial government officials, schoolchildren and fans. Local artists performed at the event and keynote speakers included ACB Chairman Azizullah Fazli, Governer of Bamyan Tahir Zohair, and team captain, Asghar Afghan.
Mr. Zohair called cricket the game of gentlemen and promised to work for the development of the game of cricket in Bamyan. The trophy was displayed in front of Buddhas of Bamyan, where a game of buzkashi was organised to celebrate the tour.
Late on the second evening, ACB officials and players flew to the western Herat province as part of the tour where a series of events were organised. The caretaker governor of Heart, Mr. Muhiudin Noori, welcomed the delegation at the Governor House and called it an honour for Herat province to host the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy.
ACB Chairman Azizullah Fazli thanked the provincial government for their support and said: “As one of the ancient provinces in Afghanistan, Herat was chosen because of the historic sites and monuments that exist in the province and we want to strengthen the participation of the youth in cricket in this province.”
The trophy was later taken to the Great Mosque of Herat which is over 800 years old, and the Citadel of Heart, which was built over 2,000 years ago. In the afternoon, more than 2,500 people poured into the Mawlana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi Hall to see the trophy and also watch local artists and schoolchildren perform.
For the last stop of the tour, the trophy was flown to the southern Kandahar province which has always been in the centre of many developments in Afghanistan. Photoshoots were organised outside the Tomb of the Founder of Afghanistan Ahmad Shah Durani and a holy site. Residents of Kandahar gathered at a hall in the governor house, welcoming the trophy to the province by beating drums and playing music.
Before departure for the UAE, ACB top management and staff came together to bid farewell to the trophy. Speaking at the gathering, CEO Shafiqullah Stanikzai said: “The Cricket World Cup Trophy Tour of Afghanistan was an excellent opportunity to reflect the true image of Afghanistan and Afghans to the world”.
He thanked the national team’s players for successfully qualifying for the 2019 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup, and gave further thanks to the organisation’s staff for helping to make ACB a successful and transparent organisation.