Southampton: Afghanistan’s rise in cricket had always been termed a fairy tale owing to the hardships they’ve had to endure in their war-torn country.
In the 2018 Asia Cup, held in the UAE, they impressed everyone.
However, in this World Cup, they have put up a pathetic show.
The team is said to be in a total mess with chaos in the dressing room.
Some senior players had long before expressed their displeasure over the appointment of Gulbadin Naib as captain replacing the popular Asghar Afghan.
Chief selector of the Afghanistan national cricket team and former fast bowler Dawlat Ahmadzai has been involved in a war of words with coach Phil Simmons.
Ahmadzai attributed the team’s poor show to the coaching staff not being able to prepare the players. Simmons hit back saying the chief selector was responsible for the entire mess, as he had removed Asghar from the captaincy just days before the World Cup.
While the team management was fighting among themselves, some players went to a restaurant and were involved in a brawl with the public forcing the police to intervene the day before their match against England.
When Naib was asked on how his team would be able to focus on Saturday’s game against India when their selectors and coach were on a warpath, the skipper said with a stern face: “No comments, Sir.”
Then when Naib was asked as to what went wrong so far and how the team’s morale was, his response was: “The morale of the guys is that they’re just focusing on each and every game. We played badly in the last few games, but we did well against England. And England is a good side … we played all the 50 overs.”
How different has it been for the team which played only six games in last World Cup while they will be playing nine matches in this edition? “We have faced different kinds of teams in this edition, especially in England’s condition and on different kind of pitches,” said Naib. “But we have learnt a lot in the last four or five games. Everyone knows Afghanistan is a growing team in world cricket, and I feel proud that we are among the top ten teams now. This is a very good experience for us.”
Afghanistan should have made a strong claim to play the bigger nations through this World Cup, but so far their show has not been up to the mark and it is likely that big teams may still not want to play them regularly. Still, Naib said: “We would like to gain more experience and we should play against the good teams like India, Australia, South Africa, and Pakistan. We would like to play the top five or six teams, and hopefully one day Afghanistan will be a different team.
“Playing against the top teams will be a good experience for the boys.”
However, right now they need to play as a team, and that hadn’t happened for far due to squabbles inside the team and among team management officials.