Afghanistan’s spirit and their ability to put up a fight despite the odds have stood out as they have progressed in leaps and bounds in the cricketing arena. And those are the qualities which will also help the Afghans continue their growth and improvement in the sport despite the turmoil the country finds itself in currently, feels Lance Klusener, head coach of the Afghanistan cricket team.
Klusener believes the players do understand they have a bigger responsibility. “As always in any team you play, you do come across off-the-field issues. But I think my players can deal with it exceptionally well. Even if there is stuff going on back home or whatever it is, they have a great ability to put that behind themselves and understand the responsibility of playing for every person back home,” the former South Africa all-rounder, one of the finest during his times, told The Telegraph from Durban.
“They can put their personal thoughts behind for a greater cause just for those few hours that they are on the field, representing all the people of Afghanistan.”
Hamid Shinwari, Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) CEO, had claimed last week that cricket would not be affected in the country even in the current disturbing scenario. And that’s a good enough assurance, Klusener feels, being optimistic that Afghanistan’s limited-overs series versus Pakistan, which is scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka next month, would go ahead as scheduled and help the team in their preparations for the T20 World Cup in the UAE this October.
“With any change of leadership or government, it may lead towards uncertain times... Doesn’t matter where you are really. But I think let’s just give it time and I’m also pretty certain that cricket will get going again. It’s still very, very early days and very difficult or unfair to jump to conclusions. Hopefully, we can get the Pakistan series happening and a good, strong performance in the T20 World Cup is what we feel we all owe the people of Afghanistan,” Klusener, who will join the squad in Sri Lanka if the series goes ahead, emphasised.
The head coach also saluted the professionalism of Afghanistan’s star players, leg-spinner Rashid Khan and all-rounder Mohammed Nabi, who were both concerned about their country but also made sure they continued their work on the field, representing Trent Rockets and London Spirits, respectively, in the inaugural The Hundred tournament in England.
“Not just Rashid and Nabi, but a lot of our other players as well have had a lot of things to deal with back home over the years, just like a lot of other people. But their ability to focus on the game once they get to the other side of the boundary is just fantastic.
“But yeah, as for Rashid and Nabi, I’m not surprised to see them as true professionals really in the way they have handled themselves and completed their work for their franchises. Our thoughts and prayers are not just with them, but all the people of Afghanistan and at the end of the day, just wishing them peace,” Klusener said.