Image courtesy of: Ryan Burl
On September 13, a suicide bomb went off at a checkpoint near the Alokozay Kabul International Cricket Ground in the capital of Afghanistan. During that time, Zimbabwe cricketer Ryan Burl was not only at the stadium, but batting during a Shpageeza Cricket League match.
No doubt shaken by what had taken place and the fact that it claimed three lives, including that of a policeman, Burl opted to stay in Afghanistan rather than return home.
Burl was one of numerous international players participating in the Shpageeza Cricket League, which is the domestic Twenty20 competition held in Afghanistan.
Despite what had occurred while he was playing for the Mis Ainak Knights in their match against the Boost Defenders, Burl, who had been concerned about his safety, decided to put cricket and the country of Afghanistan first.
Speaking exclusively to Batting with Bimal, Burl delved into the details about why he decided to travel to Afghanistan, what happened during the suicide bombing and the aftermath of the horrific incident.
BM: Why did you decide to play in the Shpageeza Cricket League despite knowing about the dangers of Afghanistan?
RB: I made the decision to come play in Afghanistan because in Zimbabwe we play a very limited amount of T20 games. So coming here was a great opportunity to play T20 cricket, as well as make some good friendships with the Afghan players.
BM: What was it like playing cricket in a place where many international cricketers may never dare to venture?
RB: “I was playing in the Shpageeza Cricket League, which is Afghanistan’s T20 league. The brand of cricket which Afghanistan cricketers play is very exciting and unpredictable. So it is really enjoyable to be a part of, and I have enjoyed every moment of it! We have been given presidential security, so we have been looked after exceptionally well! The fans here are crazy about their cricket and it has been special to have some good crowds at the matches to support us.
BM: Can you divulge what happened in regards to the suicide bombing that took place near the stadium where you were playing?
RB: There was a suicide bomber who got caught at a checkpoint and then killed himself and 3 others in the process.
BM: A few players returned home after the suicide bombings, including your teammates and compatriots Hamilton Masakadza and Solomon Mire. Why did you decide to stay?
RB: Obviously it was a frightening experience as it happened whilst I was batting. But myself and a few players decided to stay because we wanted to support Afghanistan cricket and show that no matter what we are here to play cricket and enjoy the game.
BM: Moving away from the Shpageeza Cricket League, how pleased are you that former captain Brendan Taylor is back with Zimbabwe?
RB: Obviously it’s a great addition to Zimbabwe cricket to have Brendan Taylor back as he has an exceptional amount of experience at international level.
BM: Finally, what’s next for Ryan Burl?
RB: Zimbabwe has 3 matches against Netherlands then 2 test matches against West Indies. Zimbabwe is currently on a high as we have recently beaten Sri Lanka 3-2 in the series.