Chief Executive of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), Nasimullah Danish, has responded strongly to the decision taken by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to restrict the 2015 World Cup to the ten Test-playing countries.
The decision, which has prompted angry outbursts from a number of Associate and Affilliate coaches and players, has been widely criticised following the 2011 World Cup, in which Ireland beat England having reached the Super Eight stage in 2007.
Afghanistan missed out on qualification but gained One-Day International status following their performance in the World Cup qualifier in 2009.
"It’s a major tragedy for cricket in Afghanistan and for our whole country," Danish said. "in many ways we are one of the poorest countries in the world – this decision marks yet another hurt for Afghanistan.
"The ICC needs to recognise that cricket has become more than just a game in Afghanistan in recent years. It has been a means of people feeling proud, of people knowing that we are more than just bullets and bombs, that we can compete at the international level and that we can achieve and win. Our cricket players are not just good sportsmen – they are our national heroes.
"Afghanistan has suffered for more than 30 years war and cricket is playing a big part in bringing peace and hope to our country. Many thousands of young people are playing cricket in every province of the country. If our national team cannot have the chance to participate in the World Cup these young players will have no dream to strive for."
A statement from the board went on to say: "The ACB believes in the “Spirit of Cricket” and its values of respect, fair play and equal opportunity are very important for our country. We do not see these values in this recent decision which bars us and other non-full members from participation in the “World” Cup.
"The ICC decision excludes 95 of the 105 cricketing countries from the World Cup in 2015. This means that more than 90% of the worlds cricketing nations are excluded from the “World” Cup. This does not sound like fair play, respect or equal opportunity."