Geo answer

The World

We’re searching for the largest of the Channel Islands for today’s Geo Quiz.

This island lies 14 miles off the northern coast of France, and is the largest island in the English Channel, bigger than its neighbor, Guernsey. This week it’s hosting a major international cricket tournament.

Afghans in trainingAfghans in training

Teams from countries including Botswana, Mozambique, Nepal, and Norway
are competing to qualify for the 2011 Cricket World Cup. And for the first time ever, Afghanistan sent a team. Cricket, like so many other sports and cultural activities, was banned under the Taliban.

Now the Afghan team is out on the pitch alongside 40 other teams competing for a chance to go to the World Cup. So tell us where the cricket pitch is!

We’ll check in on the tournament and reveal the name of this southernmost of the Channel Islands …

The war weary people of Afghanistan have their eyes and ears trained on a new battlefield. It’s a fight for supremacy in the genteel world of cricket being waged on the island of Jersey in the English Channel. Jersey is the answer to our Geo Quiz today.

Afghanistan is hoping to qualify for the next Cricket World Cup in 2011. Laura Lynch reports from Jersey on their first match and the remarkable story behind the team.

Crystal flutes of champagne, canapes of smoked salmon and crème fraiche. This is not the world Afghans usually inhabit. But the night before their first match, Afghanistan’s national cricket team was welcomed to Jersey like celebrities.

“We’ve heard great things about your team, we’re expecting great things from your team?”

The island’s Lieutenant Governor, Andrew Ridgeway, guided them to a reception at his residence ? offering them orange juice in place of alcohol. It is the first, but not the last, distraction from the challenge of the games themselves.


The team cheer ? praise to God ? isn’t normally heard in these parts. But they are devout Muslims and during breaks the long match – it IS cricket after all – they find time to kneel on the grass and pray. There are no mosques on this island, anyway. But the locals are doing their best to make their guests feel comfortable. The scorer assigned to the team, Kathy Rawson, was ready to cover her head if it risked offending the players.

“And I actually do have a scarf with me in case it’s required and it’s in my bag now just in case it’s needed but it doesn’t appear that anybody has any problems so fine.”

As the match gets underway, coach Taj Malik looks on nervously from the sidelines.

“This is my dream. If it’s come true.”

Malik molded this team from nothing after the Taliban were driven from power.

“Yeah I know Afghanistan is almost one hundred percent destroyed with thirty years war and everything started with zero there ? and similar is the sports department we started in 2002 with zero.”

No cricket pitches, no money, no way to train. Many of the players learned the game as children in the refugee camps of Peshawar after the war with the Soviet Union drove them to Pakistan. Now, one of the team’s stars, Hamid Hassan thinks of little else.

“It means cricket is our life. It’s our life. We are not doing anything without cricket. All the time 24 just playing cricket.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be time for other attractions while they’re here. The tournament runs for more than a week. Hassan wants to walk beside an ocean for the first time. He wants to eat fish and chips. But more than anything else, Hassan wants to beat the team from the United States.

“We’ll be trying our best to when we face to face against America because it’s world power, everybody knows America so if we beat them it will be very good for u.s.”

There’s no small amount of resentment for the U.S. even if it is wrapped up in a good old-fashioned sports rivalry. But first, Afghanistan has to beat other opponents ? today it was Japan. And they did it easily ? scoring 179 runs to Japan’s 87. Hasti Gul came off the pitch wearing a broad smile.

Victory won’t erase the scar from a bullet wound he wears, but it will ease the pain he and his family have suffered. They were the first ones he called with today’s good news.

“Yeah my family is also keeping in touch with me and they will be very happy?”

Their years in Pakistan ? a cricket powerhouse ? served them well. They are the favorites to win here. But this is still just the first step in a long journey to the World Cup ? a journey that they hope will help both them and their country to a better future.

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