It has already been quite a year for Afghanistan cricket – but who would have thought the next good news story, after the recent confirmation of their Test status, would come in Cardiff, as Derbyshire ended a two-year drought in the Specsavers County Championship?
Hamidullah Qadri, the off-spinning hero of Derbyshire’s Division Two win against Glamorgan, was born in Kandahar, a city that has become all too familiar on news bulletins during recent years.
He moved to England with his family in 2011 at the age of 11 – meaning he had already made history just by being selected at the SSE SWALEC, as the first cricketer to play in the Championship born in the 2000s.
Further details of exactly how the family ended up in Derbyshire will doubtless follow in the coming days. For now, it is more than enough to note that he has been a product of Derbyshire’s cricket development, rather than the huge growth of the game in Afghanistan in recent years.
It was Derbyshire Cricket Board coaches who spotted his raw potential. Within two years of his arrival, he was playing first team cricket for Alvaston and Boulton in the Derbyshire Premier League – for whom he has taken more than 200 wickets.
His team-mates there include Steve Stubbings, the former Derbyshire opener who is now on the county’s coaching staff, having been appointed to a new-look set-up by director of cricket Kim Barnett during the winter.
Qadri has been on the fringes of the first team for a few weeks, but Barnett judged that Cardiff, regarded as one of the most spin-friendly grounds in the country, would be ideal for a debut. It proved an inspired decision. His first involvement was to demonstrate he's no mug with the bat, as he made an unbeaten 11 at number 11 in a Derbyshire first-innings total of 288.
Then he recorded impressive bowling figures of 15-10-16-1, with Glamorgan’s highly-rated Andrew Salter as his maiden first-class victim.
Jeevan Mendis, the Sri Lankan international who has been playing as Derbyshire’s overseas player in the Championship this season, claimed the individual honours in the first innings with three wickets.
But it was very different in the second innings, as Glamorgan chased a victory target of 212. Qadri opened the bowling with veteran seamer Tony Palladino, and doubled his first-class wickets tally in his sixth over.
Then he claimed four of the last seven, to end with five for 60, as Derbyshire ended that horribly long run without a win.
“It was an honour to be asked to lead the team off, especially as it was my debut and we hadn’t won for two years,” he told BBC Radio Derby afterwards.
“I haven’t played on a turning pitch for some time, and I took every opportunity to back my skills. I know that I am good enough to play without fear, and I can’t wait for my next game.
“I took the game in my stride, and, if selected, will look forward to the next game at Chesterfield, where I have taken 2 five-wicket hauls for my club.”
It is a true county cricket fairytale – and there haven’t been many of those at Derbyshire in the last few years.