Today I welcomed the Afghanistan national cricket team to Australia ahead of their participation in the 2015 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup. 

The team is taking part in a three-week playing tour of Australia and New Zealand in preparation for its first ever appearance at the 50-over World Cup tournament.

Joined by Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Australia His Excellency Nasir Andisha and Australia’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Jon Philp, I had the pleasure of meeting Captain Mohammad Nabi Eisakhil, all-rounder Samiullah Shinwari, official Basheer Stanekzai, and Coach Andrew Moles.

Afghanistan’s achievement of qualifying for the ICC World Cup is not only a reflection on the quality of the team, but is also testament to the spirit of the Afghan people.

Sport can play an important role in building a nation.  Australia has a remarkable international sporting pedigree – it is one that we are keen to share with our cricket friends and partners in Afghanistan. 

The Australian Government recently supported the Afghanistan Cricket Board’s Twenty20 cricket tournament by providing funds to purchase uniforms, playing equipment and first aid supplies.  This support is helping to foster the next generation of cricketers from Afghanistan. 

Australia remains an active contributor to international efforts to support Afghanistan including through our development program and security assistance.

With Afghanistan’s entry into the Cricket World Cup, sport will be an important avenue for deeper engagement between Australia and Afghanistan.  I am looking forward to our two countries standing together on the WACA cricket pitch on 4 March 2015 when Australia hosts Afghanistan in a World Cup fixture.

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