ZIMBABWE Cricket authorities have demanded that all Zimbabwean cricketers, who are in Afghanistan for the Shpageeza Cricket League, should return home with immediate effect in the wake of a bomb blast just outside the venue of one of the matches in Kabul yesterday.
A number of Zimbabweans have been in Kabul taking part in the Shpageeza Cricket League and they include Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda, Raza Butt, Tendai Chatara, Elton Chigumbura, Richmond Mutumbami and Ryan Burl.
Yesterday’s blast occurred during a Shpageeza Cricket League match between Boost Defenders and MIS Ainak Knights in Kabul yesterday, which featured some Zimbabwean cricketers.
Local media in Kabul reported a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a security checkpoint en route to the Alokozay Kabul International Cricket Ground in Kabul.
The Afghanistan media also reported that the blast had killed two people, but the cricket board’s CEO confirmed that all the players, coaching staff and match officials were safe.
The league is Afghanistan’s domestic Twenty20 tournament and features six teams and about two dozen overseas players from South Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Oman.
The Defenders-Knights match was the second game of the day, following the Amo Sharks-Kabul Eagles contest.
ZC spokesperson Darlington Majonga told The Herald last night they had been in touch with their Afghan counterparts and ordered that they ensure that all Zimbabwean players should be put on the first plane out of Kabul.
“Following today’s events, Zimbabwe Cricket has ordered that all Zimbabwean players who are in Afghanistan should be put on the first plane out of Kabul so that they return home and we have communicated that with our counterparts in that country,’’ said Majonga.
“Although we have been given assurance that the players are safe, we have decided against taking any chances and that is why we need all our players back home as soon as possible. “We believe that efforts are now being made by our Afghan counterparts to ensure that our players get on the first plane and fly back home.’’
Shafiqullah Stanikzai, the ACB chief executive officer, said the blast occurred during the fourth over of Knights’ chase of 202. South Africa batsman Cameron Delport had scored a 42-ball century earlier to power Defenders to 201 for 6, which was seven runs too many for Knights.
Apart from Delport, the other overseas players at the ground at the time of the blast were Morne van Wyk (South Africa) and Rayad Emrit (West Indies) for Defenders, while the Zimbabwean trio of Vusi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl were representing Knights.
Adam Hollioake, the former England captain, is the Defenders coach while Andy Moles is coaching Knights. “The match was stopped briefly, but once the Afghanistan government-appointed security gave the clearance, it resumed. “It is not yet clear what caused the blast,” Stanikzai told ESPNcricinfo.
Afghanistan was recently inducted as the 12th Full Member by the ICC in June. “For this tournament, a special decree has been issued by His Excellency, the president of the country, to look after the security,” he explained.
“We heard a sound, but we were not sure exactly what happened. The match was stopped for short time but resumed once the security heads told us we can carry on. The President’s special advisor was also present at the ground to assure the security. They told us there is no threat to the players.”But the ZC authorities are not taking any chances and want their men back home.