Afghanistan team undergo training under Rashid Latif and Aamir Sohail in Karachi (2014)

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http://www.dawn.com/news/1100791/afghanistan-require-specialised-coaching-to-prosper-kabir



KARACHI: If Afghanistan are to seriously compete with the established cricket-playing nations in major competitions, particularly at next year’s ICC World Cup, they must adapt to specialised coaching, according to their Pakistan-born head coach Kabir Khan.

The Afghans, who have already exhibited they have the potential to prove their mettle on the international stage, are currently on a training trip to Karachi where they are undergoing extensive coaching under the watchful supervision of former Pakistan stars Rashid Latif and Aamir Sohail.

Based at the scenic surroundings of the faraway Arabian Sea Country Club, the Afghans are preparing for the forthcoming Asian Cricket Council (ACC)’s Premier League 50-over tournament in Kuala Lumpur.

The six-nation round-robin event, which runs from May 1 to 7, also features the UAE, Nepal, Oman and Hong Kong besides hosts Malaysia.

Afghanistan are tipped as firm favourites for the title.

Former left-arm paceman Kabir, who appeared in four Tests and 10 One-day Internationals from August 1994 to August 2000 with modest success, didn’t get much recognition largely because he played during the time when the legendary Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis formed the most lethal new-ball partnership in Pakistan cricket history.

A highly qualified ECB Level 3 coach, Kabir is now in his second stint with the Afghan national side and guided them to ODI status during the 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier in his first term after taking his charges from the 2008 World Cricket League Division Five through to Division Four and Division Three.

In an exclusive interview with Dawn , Kabir said on Friday that Afghanistan need to embrace coaching at all levels in order to compete on equal footing.

“We have realised now that it [specialised coaching] is the best possible way forward. Our players may possess natural talent but they must understand finer points of the game because there is a vast gap between their way of playing cricket and those of major teams,” Kabir highlighted.

“This is exactly the purpose of our two-week visit to Pakistan. We are here to get maximum knowledge from the likes of Rashid Latif and Aamir Sohail both of whom have been very kind and are diligently helping the Afghan cricketers learn the skills to improve their game.

“Rashid is imparting specific training to the wicket-keepers. The boys can only get better because they are learning from a man who was rated as the one of the best in world cricket. Likewise, Aamir is working with the batsmen while I’m helping the bowlers.”

Kabir further remarked that apart from the basic facets of cricket, Afghanistan, who will play five matches against local club teams here, are working to improve their fielding and fitness levels.

“This is absolutely necessary. Without fitness there is no way these cricketers can be expected to compete; and when fitness levels go up naturally fielding also improves in leaps and bounds,” the Peshawar-born Kabir, who celebrated his 40th birthday last Saturday, stressed.

Afghanistan have engaged the Peshawar-based duo of Azeem Malik as the physio-cum-trainer and Imranullah as the strength and conditioning coach while former national team representative Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai is the fielding coach.

Kabir, an ex-Habib Bank and Peshawar player who had also coached the UAE team in the past after quitting competitive cricket in 2005, emphasised that a lot is being done in Afghanistan to have the proper cricketing infrastructure with the International Cricket Council (ICC) providing the necessary needs.

“Cricket is now the most popular sport in Afghanistan. There are proper playing fields in a number of cities and regions. Kabul and Jalalabad lead the way in expanding cricket with several quality grounds. The Afghanistan Cricket Board [ACB] is doing its best with the support of both the ICC and the Asian Cricket Council.

“Remember when Afghanistan seriously took up the game we had nothing to bank on. Most of the cricketers found came from trying background as they were brought up in refugee camps [as a consequence of the Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979] in Pakistan and adjoining areas.

“But the resilience of the Afghans has contributed in inculcating a sporting culture in the country and cricket has certainly taken a leading role. I’m sure by the time we head to the World Cup, Afghanistan would be adequately prepared to put up a good show on the biggest stage,” Kabir hoped.

Afghanistan, who have never played Down Under, are grouped with Sri Lanka, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Scotland as well as tournament’s co-hosts Australia and New Zealand.

The only drawback, Kabir says, is that Afghanistan are more at ease in the T20 rather the 50-over format.

“But we should not delve too much into this factor. After all, we did beat Bangladesh in the recent Asia Cup. And we may still spring some surprises when the World Cup starts. It is imperative now that how well we prepare.”
 
When Afghans were nobodies.... Afghans learnt the game here, played here, trained here, lived here and now talk against Pakistan.
 
One thing is for sure, PCB and Pakistan cricket has done a lot for Afghanistan cricket, something that isn't always appreciated.
 
Considering the recent events of change in political landscape in Afghanistan, going forward AFGs might not find the opportunity of being "homed" by India - their real struggle will start from there on. Hosting International games might not be an issue, they can do that in BD, SRL or UAE, but managing the infrastructure and facilities accommodated by BCCI is impossible to replace by AFG board in near future.
 
Considering the recent events of change in political landscape in Afghanistan, going forward AFGs might not find the opportunity of being "homed" by India - their real struggle will start from there on. Hosting International games might not be an issue, they can do that in BD, SRL or UAE, but managing the infrastructure and facilities accommodated by BCCI is impossible to replace by AFG board in near future.
It is where their board must have been having good terms with Pakistan means PCB . It would have been much much better.
 
One thing is for sure, PCB and Pakistan cricket has done a lot for Afghanistan cricket, something that isn't always appreciated.

Not just Afghanistan i can assure you.
 
It is where their board must have been having good terms with Pakistan means PCB . It would have been much much better.

For last 10-12 years, it won't have been much of an issue because PAK itself couldn't host home games, but in the long run indeed it'll cost AFG Board. May not be in terms of hosting games even in future, but AFG Board can get lots of technical support from PCB for sure. Also, it always helps playing bilateral games, at any level - from U19 to National level. Unfortunately, these two broads are probably not in talking terms now and most blame will go to ACB here - there was no reason to pull PCB/PAK's leg here.
 
How quickly some people forget. I still remember Afghan players like Nabi, Gulbadin and Hamid Hassan playing the FaisaL Bank T20 for Afghan Cheetahs.
 
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