When Jonathan Trott took charge as the head coach of Afghanistan in July this year, he did not have much idea in terms of what to expect.
This is Trott’s first time in charge of a men’s senior team in international cricket, although he was earlier associated with the England team as batting coach.
But over the past three months, the former England batter has understood what the game means for the crisis-hit country. So, on Friday, a few minutes after Afghanistan’s closely-fought four-run defeat against Australia in the last group league fixture of the T20 World Cup, Trott was emotional.
“I look at it and I realise how fortunate and privileged I was growing up in a country where sport is so well catered for and encouraged and is a way of life,” Trott said.
“So, to see these guys and hear their stories about their background of growing up and the things that they have had to overcome, areas they have come from and get to be here in Adelaide, playing under the bright lights in front of over 18,000 people and a worldwide audience, sometimes it would be lost on some people but definitely not for me at all,” he added.
And, the coach also lauded the efforts of some players who had to go through a lot to come this far. “There are things that could be better with regards to structure, but as far as players are concerned, I don’t have an issue with any of them. It’s my job as coach to educate them on how they are going to be better players,” he said.
Afghanistan suffered three defeats in the tournament, while two of its games were washed out in Melbourne. But even then, the Afghan players fought hard against defending champion Australia and proved their mettle in every department.
“It showed the skill and talent of the players that we have got, but also the situation awareness that we lack in parts. We saw that against Sri Lanka. We have seen it again tonight. England didn’t allow us to get in really. I think the bowling was good. You always want more coming from a T20 game,” Trott said.
“It’s a type of game that ebbs and flows. That certainly happened tonight and the more often we can get those things going in our favour, certainly the capability to do so, and the more consistent we will become as a side.”
When the team trained at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday, the head coach tried boosting the confidence of the players by encouraging them to play to the best of their potential at Rashid Khan’s ‘second home’. The all-rounder has been with Big Bash League’s Adelaide Strikers since the 2017-18 season.
“Yesterday we were training and I said: ‘welcome to the home of Rashid Khan’. He has been great throughout the tournament. The fall that he had at the end of last game (against Sri Lanka), and he said there is no chance of missing this game. That’s the type of character he is and that’s the type of character we want in the side.”
Over the years, Afghanistan has battled all odds to emerge as one of the talked-about teams in world cricket, and with performances like the one against Australia, the players and the team management are confident that better days lie ahead.
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