Moles: Taliban supports Afghan cricket
Afghanistan cricket coach Andy Moles believes the future is very bright for his team and envisions a Test future in a decade or two, especially as the Taliban have opted to back rather than hinder the team.
The Afghan side is one of cricket’s new loves, as most of their players rose to international cricket from refugee camps and tennis balls, and Moles has the task of seeing them to the World Cup in the Antipodes next year.
He explained that he felt safe enough most of the time, and that he didn’t worry about the Taliban, as they were supportive of the team and saw it as a unifying factor.
Moles said: “If there’s going to be a security threat, it will be from a suicide bomber. And as people tell me, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, then unfortunately it’s curtains.
“You just have to be sensible – take different routes to work every day and stagger your times when you leave.
“We have armed guards at the ground and at the hotel. There’s soldiers on the streets and armed police. But generally the team feels very safe.
“The Taliban and people like that are very supportive of cricket. They see it as a unifying sport. They see it as good for the country.
“I don’t feel under threat myself, so the players feel even less threatened than I do.”
The Englishman thought back to when he encountered Sri Lanka when they were new to the international game, and where they are now, and said Afghanistan could follow a similar path to Test cricket.
Moles added: “They remind me of when I was playing at Warwickshire, and we came across Sri Lanka. And 20 years later look where Sri Lanka have got to.
“We’ve got some very talented cricketers in Afghanistan. There’s a very strong and popular base of cricket.
“And all the schools play cricket there now, so the future looks strong.”
He went on to say that players like skipper Mohammad Nabi were national heroes, like MS Dhoni is in India: “Everyone knows who they are. Captain Mohammad Nabi is a folk hero.”
And then added that children aspired to play cricket as a way out of the refugee camps: “If you look back over Afghanistan’s history, a lot of people have been there to try to knock them over, and they haven’t done it.
“Some of these players were brought up in tents amongst hundreds of thousands of others in refugee camps.
“A lot of youngsters see cricket as a way of getting out of the slums and the disadvantaged areas.”
He concluded by relating how his players enjoyed watching Mitchell Johnson train at the WACA recently, when they visited ahead of the World Cup, saying: “They’re obviously star struck.
“Some of the English batsmen seemed quite star struck themselves in the last Ashes series.
“But joking aside, these players really relish the opportunity to be on the field with some of these great cricketers.
“One or two will come up short, but one or two will also make a name for themselves.”
Tom Westley and Essex have their sights set on Royal London Cup silverware
Essex, who won the domestic Twenty20 competition in 2019, have only two players in The Hundred.
Matt Parkinson stars at Manchester Originals have Birmingham Phoenix in a spin
The England leg spinner’s four for nine set up the victory for Jos Buttler’s side.
Haseeb Hameed hundred helps Nottinghamshire defeat Warwickshire
Essex and Lancashire remain perfect in Group Two after two games.
Hundred organisers hit out at ‘unacceptable’ abuse
Players have been targeted since the launch of cricket’s new format.
Joe Root admits friendship will be set aside against Ben Stokes in The Hundred
The England pair face off with Trent Rockers and Northern Superchargers on Monday.
Local hero Jonny Bairstow stuns Headingley with impressive Welsh Fire knock
Yorkshire wicketkeeper-batsman Bairstow, captaining the Fire, hit 56 from 36 balls in The Hundred clash.
‘He’s a fantastic asset’ – Joe Root excited to see Rashid Khan in Hundred action
The England Test captain and Afghanistan leg-spinner are team-mates at Trent Rockets.
5 things we learned from the opening games of The Hundred
The near 8,000 who turned up for night one represented the biggest ever UK crowd for a women’s match.
First-pick Rashid Khan proud to be flying flag for Afghanistan in The Hundred
The leg-spinner is excited about the prospect of bowling 10 balls in a row when he turns out for Trent Rockets.
Adil Rashid looking forward to coming up against Jonny Bairstow in The Hundred
When they face off on Saturday the Yorkshire and England team-mates will be on opposite sides for the first time.