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How Matthew Fleming helped the rise of Afghanistan cricket

Friday 13th March 2015

Former Kent captain Matthew Fleming may have been torn today in choosing a victor as the team he helped to set up take on the nation he represented, writes Elliot Mulley-Goodbarne.

Fleming is the MCC Foundation representative in Afghanistan has worked with charity Afghan Connection to invest £250,000 in Afghan Cricket to help the national team progress from their first match in 2004 to their first World Cup win against Scotland.

Now the Afghanistan team, all of which grew up in refugee camps, are looking forward to playing a demoralised England side on Friday as both teams would like to end their world cup on a high.

Fleming, who played cricket for England in 11 ODIs, was the one of two people to reply to Sarah Fane’s son in request for help to set up a cricket programme in Afghanistan.

Sarah Fane, who set up Afghan Connection in 2002, saw cricket as a way to steer children away from violence and, with the help of her son, appealed to every county in the country to give what they could.

Fleming seized on this and, after an initial contribution of matching kits and organised the first coaching camp for 150 boys in 2009 in Jalalabad where the entire Afghan team went along.

Now in just six years the Afghanistan team are going to return from their fourth world cup with a win and has seen money well spent as cricket has swept the nation.

52 pitches have been built in 22 provinces, now 40,000 children are going to cricket training.

Sarah has described this journey as a “fairytale”.