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Langton Green Cricket Club in Kent

A clutch of Afghans have come to the rescue for Langton Green Cricket Club in Kent, reports Nick Greenslade

A convincing win on a glorious late September day was a fitting way for Langton Green Cricket Club to conclude this season. Victories in all but two games, no matches cancelled because of player shortages – this ranked among the best of summers.

Adam Hollioake had a scary time in Afghanistan

It also represented a remarkable turnaround. By 2015, the club was fighting for its future as playing numbers began to dwindle. “Sometimes we would only have seven players available and have to call games off,” says Martin Russell, captain and stalwart of the club for more than 30 years. “It was the worst I’ve experienced in my time. Another couple of years of that and we could have been facing oblivion. I’ve seen it happen to other clubs.”

Salvation arrived in an unexpected form – an influx of players from Afghanistan and from Peshawar, just over the border in Pakistan. Langton Green is a village three miles outside Tunbridge Wells in Kent. The team in which I played for 10 years was almost universally white – a reflection of the area. An ethnic melting pot it most certainly is not.

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England’s greatest batsmen – we asked 27 experts to name their top 5, and collated the results. There are some fascinating choices! The superb Simon Barnes, with the best turn of phrase in sports journalism, on England’s year so far. The feisty Jarrod Kimber on the state of play in Australian cricket. The elegant and massively under-rated David Townsend on Adelaide Oval. A lovely piece on the greatness of Dennis Lillee, by Simon Hughes. A forensic look at the problems at Sussex, by the man in the know, Bruce Talbot.