The news from Afghanistan tends to be uniformly depressing and so I perked up when I read that Afghanistan has taken up the sport of cricket and currently has a national team playing against the Netherlands in Sharjah. It is true that neither team is an international powerhouse in the sport, but it is surely a welcome sign of a possible return to normalcy for a country to indulge in such a leisurely activity like cricket.
According to this Wikipedia article, cricket started becoming popular in 2000 with the return of Afghan refugees from cricket-mad Pakistan and was granted an exemption by the Taliban from its ban on all sports.
Why the Taliban would exempt cricket of all things baffles me. Surely if there is any sport that exemplifies decadent time wasting, it is cricket, and perhaps golf. Maybe because in cricket all the players wear long pants and long sleeved shirts and are generally covered up, which satisfies the Taliban’s bizarre obsession with modesty.