As everybody knows by now, the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) sacked Coach Andy Moles in August 2015 by deciding not to renew his contract. The Englishman was known for being a reliable opening batsman during his career with Warwickshire. Afghanistan also made an appearance in the World Cup for the first time during his stint with them. Now, the ACB has appointed Inzamam-ul-Haq, the former Pakistan captain, as the Afghan national team’s head coach. Inzamam signed a two year coaching contract after Afghanistan defeated Zimbabwe 3-2 earlier this year in a historic ODI series. The series victory officially made Afghanistan one of the top ten ODI cricketing nations in the world.
What some people are questioning, however, is why former Coach Andy Moles was dismissed in the first place – especially after just one short year. One critic commented, “This chopping and changing of head coaches by Afghanistan will surely set their progress back by several years each time they do it.” Another person advised, “I think ACB should have given some more time to Andy before making the decision.”
So, why then did Afghanistan terminate Andy Moles? According to Shafiqullah Stanikzai, CEO of the ACB, there was not a good understanding between the coach and the team. Perhaps there are signs of a deeper problem, though. Perhaps Afghanistan simply cannot support a foreign head coach who is not Pakistani or Indian. Andy Moles reflected about coaching in Afghanistan, “It’s a totally different life from being in South Africa or being in England. You have to be aware where you are, and what circumstance and environment you find yourself in…always be aware of where you can get away from a situation if anything happens and of hiding places and stuff like that. There were a few occasions where the ACB told me, ‘We’re not going to pick you up today. You stay at the hotel. We’ve heard that the roads aren’t safe today, or there could be an issue somewhere in the city.’”
Of course, there are also the stark religious and cultural differences of foreign coaches who are not either Pakistani or Indian. Afghanistan is one of the only teams to take breaks in cricket matches for Namaz and prayer. Andy Moles admitted, “It’s not something I had come across before.” Being a non-Muslim, he respected the prayers, but found the entire experience quite different than anything he was used to.
Regardless, the moral of the story is that there is more to the topic of hiring foreign head coaches in Afghanistan than it seems. Due to the vital areas of communication, religion, safety, and culture, it may be impossible to ever hire a non-Indian or non-Pakistani head coach for the Afghanistan team. Then again, it may just be a matter of time until Afghanistan develops the proper international infrastructure to do so. What are your thoughts on Afghanistan’s coaching situation?
Below is a video of new head coach Inzamam-ul-Haq in a practice session. He seems to be doing a good job: