Flintoff inspires Hassan

Hassan has become a cult figure at the World Cup, with a bandana in his country’s colours wrapped tightly around his head and tiny Afghanistan flags painted on his cheeks.

His celebrations have made the headlines too, cartwheeling with joy when he dismissed Kumar Sangakkara in their defeat to Sri Lanka.

The seamer now wants to follow in the footsteps of Flintoff who sparked England’s defeat of Australia in the 2005 Ashes where he claimed 24 wickets.

“There are a lot of fast bowlers I love to watch, but the one guy I was very inspired by was in the Ashes series in 2005… when I saw Andrew Flintoff,” Hassan told cricket.com.au.

“He played like a hero in that Ashes series. He bowled really well, bowled fast and quick, got 24 wickets and got some runs in batting. I wish I could bat like him but I’m not a good batsman.

“He inspired me a lot with the way he played, the way he bowled, the way he batted, his celebrations and everything. He was amazing.”

Afghanistan go into Wednesday’s Pool A game having won their first ever World Cup clash against Scotland, which followed defeats by Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and they remain in quarter-final contention with further games to come against New Zealand and England.

Afghanistan have faced Australia only once, losing by 66 runs in Sharjah in 2012 but Hassan missed that game with a knee injury.

If he manages to send back any of Australia’s leading batsmen on Wednesday then he may well celebrate with another cartwheel, which greeted his dismissal of Sri Lanka star Sangakkara in Dunedin.

“I didn’t know what I should do so I just went for it,” Hassan said of his celebration which ended with him taking a tumble in his follow through.

“I was just enjoying that wicket because everyone knows that Sangakkara is the No 1 batsman in the world.

“I feel very proud that I got him and also then Mahela Jayawardene later on. I was very excited, I didn’t know what to do and it just happened. It was amazing.”