Victory Against Bangladesh Was Us The Faith In Yourself: Andy Moles > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Win against Bangladesh has given us self-belief: Andy Moles
A new 20-year-old skipper, a dismal World Cup campaign and an opposition who'd made their backyard a fortress. Andy Moles, the former Warwickshire batsman, couldn't have had a tougher start as a coach. Here he is, talking exclusively to Cricbuzz on the back of a legendary Test victory about terror threats, the overdose of spin resources, the batting mindset and of course, Rashid Khan.
How difficult has working in Afghanistan been, considering their state of affairs and was it an easy choice for you?
I started five years ago. At that time, I was first invited as batting consultant. I went for ten days just to see what I was going to do and I was keen to see what it was like in that country, and after some time they asked me to come back to be their national coach. Afghanistan has security problems but the Afghanistan Cricket Board has tried to make sure they look after me as best as they can. My family was obviously concerned because of the security issues going on there. But they have all come to terms now. From the outside, it seems there are bombs going off every day. There are issues. But they are not always in Kabul or outside of Kabul. I have heard two bomb blasts. But I have never seen a bomb blast. So if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, it is going to affect you. Hopefully, I will not be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The new president has just arrived. His main business is, he owns a massive international security company. He will make sure they do everything they can to ensure that everything is going smoothly.
Five years back did you imagine that Afghanistan cricket reach this level?
Well, I could see the talent in the country and in the players. But it's just growing now and it's the young players' time now especially. There are young players that have to be nurtured and the senior players in the national team have done a fantastic job. Some of the younger players - Ibrahim, Qais, Waqar, Abul - they have done well. There are also some guys in the A team at the moment and will be pushing for places.
Hopefully, I will see the development of the team for the next two years and it is very exciting. Cricketers are passionate and have talent. I believe they can be a big powerhouse in world cricket. They have huge talent and just need to be managed properly.
How massive is this Test victory for Afghanistan?
This Test victory was huge not just because it was a Test match win, but because it has given us the self-belief. Bangladesh is a very difficult place to come and win. Whenever I talked to the players, I tried to make the players understand and accept the importance of doing the basics for longer. We are going to (have to) do the boring stuff for longer, we are going (have to) to block the ball, and we've got to understand during the batting that we needed that time. The more balls we face, the more runs we are going to make. That is the simple ideology. You saw in the last Test match. The guys who were able to bat 150-200 balls were the ones who were successful. They've got to have total trust in their defence. We are trying to make them understand that their defence has to be strong, trusted. Rotating the strike if they can do that than hitting fours and sixes would not be a problem for Afghanistan.
The mindset of the batsman was quite different from the way they play limited-overs cricket. Do you feel that was the biggest challenge, to make them understand the needs of different format?
That's the goal. It's about batting time whether it is T20, the 50-over format, Test matches. In the end, the top five batters are selected for scoring runs, and to score runs you need to face 150-200 balls especially in the longer versions. We have been trying to make them understand the importance of that and the necessity of staying longer because scoring 30 or 50 off 70 balls is not good enough. And consistency is the key now against West Indies, whether they can do it again is the challenge.
They have seen the result here. Now it's time to repeat it against a different team in different conditions. That is what we are learning. I am the interim coach at the moment and my job is to make the batters understand the importance of partnerships. It is basic. Partnership with bat and ball. In our culture, players are brought up in T20 and T10 cricket. That's what they play. Trying to get them to explore thinking differently about how we approach our innings is probably a challenge, but it is not difficult. It's not difficult to talk. It's very simple. The simple thing is players must play balls, they must bat time. If they cannot do it, we won't be successful in Test cricket. If we can't bat 50-60 overs, you can't expect to make runs. The team needs to bat 130-140 overs in the first innings minimum. If we can do that, we will be successful. The players need to understand that they need to know what they have got to do but they need to turn it around and improve the plan.
Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah looked impressive?
He [Ibrahim] is a young kid and he is hugely talented. He was here in the A series and scored a mountain of runs and he will be a huge asset for Afghanistan in the future. He is a good lad, he learns, he wants to get better, he is hungry and he has got all the ingredients. He can only be a heavy run-scorer moving forward.
As for Rahmat Shah, in the first innings, he scored a hundred and faced 180-190 balls. Then the next innings he was out on the first ball. That is not the plan. That is not what we were trying to do when we had spoken to him. To be successful, you must have a plan. To be consistent, you have to repeat that plan, the good things. And unfortunately, in the second innings, Rahmat went away from his own personal plan. He knows it now and hopefully, he will become more consistent.
Tell us how Afghanistan got such variety of spinners?
We have got lots of spinners. We have Rashid who leads from the front, but Nabi is there behind him. He can control innings. Now he has decided to step down from Test cricket. That is his own decision we need to respect that. We've got two young spinners now and we have got plenty back in Afghanistan. We have got so many. We have got good left-arm spinners. Now the problem is that we have not got any off-spin bowlers because everyone tries to copy Rashid. So there are numerous wrist spinners and they are match winners. They threaten both sides of the bat. Last week we saw in the opposition (Bangladesh), that the finger spinners got turn but not as (much as) wrist spinners. That was the difference in the game.
The skillset of the left-arm legspin bowler Zahir looked pretty impressive. Could you talk about your young spinners?
Zahir has been around for a long time. He has played a lot of cricket. He played a lot of T20 cricket and he played in Under-19s along with Qais and Ibrahim in New Zealand three years ago. They know what they need to do. They need to understand the necessity of consistency. You cannot bowl three good balls and then get charged.
Qais was not consistent with lengths. And then I spoke to him when we were going back to Kabul. We worked very hard on bowling the targets and getting him in rhythm. These two bowlers ... Rashid bowls very good lengths, the googly, it's a threat to the inside and outside of the bat. But these two kids in next two-three years will become powerful spin bowlers in world cricket.
No Mujeeb in the longer format?
Mujeeb is a mystery bowler. He plays in T20s. At the moment he is concentrating on white-ball cricket. He is not in the red ball plans at the moment. Let's see what happens.
How did you separate both teams for the longer format and the shorter format?
I am the chairman of the selectors as well. I see how they bowl, look at their temperament. We want attacking bowlers in Test match cricket because you need to get 20 wickets. Mujeeb is a new-ball bowler, that's why he is in One-Day cricket. In the future, we will see whether we can get him into red-ball cricket as well. But we have got enough bowlers in Afghanistan who are special. It is not very difficult to choose different players for different formats, but you have to be brave enough to make the decisions. Just have to make sure the captain knows what type of team he wants and whom he wants in his side for that [format]. We work together. It is difficult to leave senior players out of the side but all in all, we believe this is the right squad for this competition. For the T20 WC in October next year, we need to look at a group of bowlers. We need to make sure six months prior the World Cup that we have our 15-man squad ready.
Now in between our own six-a-side tournament and the Shpageeza T20 happening in Kabul and there is plenty of opportunities for the players to show what they can do. And at the moment we have 17 here travelling with us. The captain must have the bowlers and batsmen he can believe in by his side along with the coach.
How did you motivate the cricketers for this series considering they did not have a good World Cup?
We did not have a good World Cup but they knew that. They knew their priority. They knew they did not represent their country as they would have liked. There was criticism at home. Now there are a few changes among the selectors, there are some changes in the squad. We won a Test. We've got to be consistent. We hope to be competitive before the next World Cup which will be in India. We definitely need to have a different squad. We have got 13 new players arriving this morning and three players from Test squad. So it is a totally different squad.
You have set a benchmark that players need to score 17.3 in the Yo-Yo test?
That's right. We have identified that, in the modern game to be successful, you need to make right decision under pressure. You have to have a certain level of fitness. 17.3 is the number that our strength and conditioning team have come up with. There will be improvement. One or two have not passed and they will work hard to make sure that they can pass the level.
We have not got the practice facilities that all the other countries have got but these things take time. I like to have practice equipment like Australia, England and other big teams do, but we don't have that back home. Before this Test, we went to Abu Dhabi, it was 47 degrees and we were trying too hard, like practising six hours a day. We prepared to get used to the heat before coming to Bangladesh. I like to push the players harder in preparation so when they actually go into the competition, they step down the intensity, they do not step up the play but step down the play. The ACB (Afghanistan Cricket Board) allows me to do everything to make sure we are ready to play in the competition.
But the camp in India does help?
Hundred per cent because our home games are played in India. We practice there. Before tours we have camps there, training camps and skill camps. So our guys get used to the conditions because it is our home ground.
Can you talk about the pacers coming through in Afghanistan?
Two or three guys are coming through the system. Some guys are out injured at the moment. They are knocking on the door for the international team in my opinion. We have got two-three exceptional quick bowlers. Once they get the nutrition and training right, they will be knocking for higher honours.
How has it been to work with Rashid?
Well, he is a character. He is very positive with everything he does. When we fail, he only sees the good things. Of course, through his own ability, he is a leader. He is talisman who leads the team very well. I was very impressed with his bowling changes in the first match as captain in this Test. He made the changes exactly as I was thinking and before I sent the message. People want to follow the leaders. We are lucky to see him take 11 wickets. He cannot do it in every game so therefore there are other guys who can learn looking at his bowling. We need to make the right decision in the preparation.
There is no academy in Afghanistan unlike other Test-playing nations. How do you spot the talents and nurture them?
We have got a structure. We have got a T20 structure and a 50-over structure. But we practice a lot. We don't need an academy. We've got an Under-19, A team, Under-23 and we play all-around. In the winter, we go to different places because there is snow in Kabul and so we can't play in that weather. So cricket is going on all the time. We don't have enough structure in Afghanistan so we have to do more coaching. Other international coaches work mostly in managing players and with the tactics. And mine is to help the players understand what their roles are and what is expected of them. And after they understand, then they work on those areas to get better.
How would you rate Gulbadin Naib's captaincy at the World Cup?
I was not involved with the team then. That's something in the past. He is a nice lad and talented. Whatever happened in the World Cup was before my time. I was working with the A team. I was not the selector. I got in after the World Cup.
What are your future plans now?
My contract's coming to end, we've got to negotiate and that is what I am doing now. I have coached New Zealand, Scotland, Kenya, I have coached all around the world. You learn from every opportunity. You pick up something new. The way to get the messages across. You need to know when to be quiet and when to be forceful. I have done a level four coaching course. I have learnt to manage individuals. Now I have been coaching for nearly 20 years. I like to believe my stock is quite full in managing and understanding the individuals.
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