STEPHON NICHOLAS and JELANI BECKLES
Trinidad and Tobago cricketer Rayad Emrit is returning home after a suicide bomber killed at least three persons and injured a dozen in an attack outside the Alokozay Kabul International Cricket Ground in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday.
Emrit, who left Trinidad last weekend to compete for the Boost Defenders in the Shpageeza Cricket League (SCL) in Afghanistan, was in the field in the second match of a doubleheader against MIS Ainak Knights when the blast occurred.
The all-rounder, speaking to Newsday yesterday evening, recounted the terrifying incident which has left him and his family back home shaken.
“It had a suicide attack outside or close to the stadium. We don’t know how close it was. It sounded like it was right outside the stadium. They said it was three kilometres but it felt right there. We were fielding and heard a loud explosion and the whole ground started to shake. When I looked up I saw the building shaking and glass shattered and smoke in the air. We just went off the field. They told us it was a glass cylinder explode, then they said it was a grenade. Inside the stadium was safer but after now we hearing it was a suicide bomber,” Emrit said.
The 36 year old said he is not taking any chances with his life and will be returning home as soon possible.
“My family uneasy home so most likely I’ll leave Friday as long as I get a flight. Trust me it’s the scariest thing I’ve experienced,” he added.
Emrit, recently competed for the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Caribbean Premier League and has plied his trade in numerous cricket leagues around the world including in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Hong Kong.
According to an ESPNcricinfo story Shafiqullah Stanikzai, Afghanistan Cricket Board’s chief executive officer, the blast occurred during the fourth over of Knights chase of 202.
The other overseas players at the ground were Emrit’s teammates Cameron Delport (South Africa) and Morne van Wyk (South Africa). Delport was a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel in the CPL in the past. The Zimbabwean trio of Vusi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl were representing Knights. The match was stopped briefly, but once the Afghanistan government-appointed security gave the clearance, it resumed.
Afghanistan was recently inducted as the 12th full member by the International Cricket Council in June. The security situation has not permitted any international cricket to be played in the war-torn country. But for the T20 league, Stanikzai said the Afghanistan government itself was involved in security.
“For this tournament, a special decree has been issued by His Excellency, the president of the country, to look after the security,” he explained. “We heard a sound, but we were not sure exactly what happened.
The match was stopped for short time but resumed once the security heads told us we can carry on. The president’s special advisor was also present at the ground to assure the security. They told us there is no threat to the players.”