Coach outburst exposes troubles in Afghanistan camp

Updated June 20, 2019


Afghan­istan look in disarray on and off the field at the World Cup. — AFP/File
Afghan­istan look in disarray on and off the field at the World Cup. — AFP/File

MANCHESTER: Afghan­istan look in disarray on and off the field at the World Cup with head coach Phil Simmons’ Twitter outburst on Wednesday revealing signs of troubles within the team.

Gulbadin Naib’s men suffered their fifth defeat in as many matches after losing to hosts England on Tuesday when they looked completely toothless against home captain Eoin Morgan’s astonishing six-hitting spree at Old Trafford.

Gulbadin replaced Asghar Afghan as captain ahead of the World Cup in a last minute leadership change that was criticised by senior players including Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi.

Former chief selector Dawlat Ahmadzai has blamed the coaching staff for the debacle which irked Simmons.

“I am in the middle of a World Cup and trying to get our team to perform to the level we expect but at the end of the World Cup I will tell the Afghanistan people about the part that Mr Dawlat Ahmadzai had to play in our preparation and his part in the dismissal of #AsgharAfghan,” Simmons tweeted.

“Me asking to renew my contract with ACB is absolutely untrue #FakeNews,” he said in another tweet last week.

On the eve of the England match, some members of the Afghanistan team were involved in an altercation at a restaurant in Manchester, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

The report said the players involved were unhappy at being filmed and confronted a member of the public. Greater Manchester Police officers attended the incident but no arrests were made.

Gulbadin declined to elaborate on the incident after the loss against England and threatened to walk out of the news conference when pressed further about what happened.

“No, I haven’t, so you can ask my security officer. I didn’t know anything about him, about them,” he said. “It’s not a big issue for the team, for me.”

Earlier on Tuesday, a statement issued by Greater Manchester Police confirmed that officers attended Akbar’s restaurant shortly after 11:15pm local time (2215 GMT) on Monday.

“Shortly after 11:15pm on Monday 17 June 2019, police were called to reports of an altercation at premises on Liverpool Road in Manchester,” the statement said. “Officers attended the scene. No one was injured and no arrests have been made. Enquiries are ongoing.”

The Afghan team also found themselves in an embarrassing situation earlier in the tournament when wicket-keeper/batsman Mohammad Shehzad threatened to quit cricket after being ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury.

Shehzad played in Afghanistan’s first two matches but the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) cut him from the squad, saying his injury would not allow him to play any further part.

He said the medical advice he sought suggested he would have been fit in a few of days after having his knee drained.

ACB Chief Executive Asadullah Khan said that the team’s priority was picking match-fit players.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2019