Out of the Ashes: The Extraordinary Rise and Rise of the Afghanistan Cricket Team

Out of the Ashes is a book written by Tim Alborn, published in 2011. Let’s get one thing straight- I am not claiming to be a cricket fan.  I liked to play cricket when I was younger, but I have not sat and watched endless matches (to date, I haven’t watched one match). Although, by the end of this book I was keen to take to the wickets, so to speak (and I don’t just mean The Wickets pub down the road…..although as I sit here in lockdown, that is quite appealing. I here it is a good pub…..when do they open?).

Anyway, I came across this book whilst on holiday in Torremolinos, Spain. I had taken a book to read and it was remarkably, ……… unremarkable (I won’t name and shame- I honestly can’t remember what the book was called or what it was about). With very few books published in English, most of which seemed to be about serial killers (and not the cool ones like Dexter), I thought: ‘this will do’.

Wow. I struggled to put it down. It really is a read for anyone- not just sports fans. Unless you cannot stand life stories I guess………I must have read it in 3 days which is very unheard of; most books take me a year to plough through. This book really sparked my interests in reading life stories. The (literal) rise from the ashes for the Afghan cricket team is a story of risk taking, perseverance, passion, grit, and determination reported by Tim Alborn; a journalist who had exclusive access to the team. I mean, to rise to success in the world of cricket is impressive anyway. Though when there was no cricket pitch in your country? The stories of the players is also very interesting. Written in a readable engaging style, this book was an impactful read. I am so pleased I picked this book up. I found myself truly elated at the team’s successes and sharing their feelings of frustration in the challenges they faced.

The narrative tells a story of a group of individuals who are passionate, determined, willing to take a risk and put everything on the line; traits and behaviours not dissimilar to descriptors used to describe entrepreneurs. There is an empowering lesson here for those wanting to strive for success on a personal, professional or academic level. Though what struck me most was the passion throughout the story, and very honest reflections. In the face of adversity, the players could have easily given up; but something that can only be described as an innate passion, drove them forward. I am a great believer in the saying, ‘if you want something, make it happen’. Similarly, I believe that we make our own paths in life (to some extent) through the choices we make and our attitude to life events. Phrases like ‘you’re so lucky, you have a job you love’ really grate on me. Sure, I see how in a way I am lucky, but that luck was made. Being in a job I love came out of many (many) years hard work and determination (and yes, a few tears and ‘why am I doing this’ moments along the way – we all have them). Being lucky to me, means winning a raffle or having a ‘near-miss’ in my car when the outcome could have been far worse. To me, being lucky refers to something that hasn’t taken any effort.

The stories shared within this book prove that it is not luck that makes a team successful, and in fact, that team success requires individual commitment. Of course they all needed to be committed- you cannot have a two person cricket team competing at international level (can you?). I would go so far to say that it pushes Belbin’s teamwork theory to its limits! The Afghan cricket team made their luck, they made their success and in doing so deserve the success they have been awarded; striving against all odds and bulldozing through all the barriers which lay in their path. Achieving in the face of such adversity must relish satisfaction and reward certainly beyond my comprehension. It is certainly an inspirational read and written in a way which motivates you to achieve your own life goals. If I ever feel like giving something up, I must remember that other people made it, from circumstances far more adverse than my own.

If you want to read something a little different, I urge you to give this book a go- let me know what you think! There is a film out too for those who have had enough of reading for one day.

Closing Note: If you like what you have read, please give a ‘like’ at the bottom of the post. Feel free to share.

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