SYDNEY: Afghanistan coach Andy Moles said his side would “come back stronger” after they bowed out of the World Cup with a disappointing nine-wicket defeat by England in Sydney on Friday.
Sent into bat after England skipper Eoin Morgan won a good toss in overcast conditions at the SCG, Afghanistan’s top-order collapsed in the face of accurate swing bowling led by James Anderson.
By the time the first of several rain breaks finally halted their innings, Afghanistan had been restricted to 111 for seven in 36.2 overs.
England, who like Afghanistan could no longer qualify for the quarter-finals, were faced with a revised target of 101 in 25 overs under the Duckworth/Lewis method and lost just one wicket in a comfortable chase.
But tournament debutants Afghanistan had already made their mark on this World Cup with a thrilling one-wicket win over Scotland, while the likes of batsman Samiullah Shenwari and fast bowlers Hamid Hassan and Shapoor Zadran produced several notable displays.
“Our guys will leave this tournament with a lot of good memories,” said the 54-year-old Moles, a former opening batsman with English county Warwickshire.
“We’ll go back and we’ll review, we’ll look at where we need to get better, and we’ll come back a lot stronger from this experience.”
Reflecting on the non-Test side’s Pool A finale — their first one-day international against England — Moles said: “I think the conditions were very, very helpful for whoever was going to bowl first.
“Anderson, as we all know, in those conditions is one of the better bowlers in the world.
“Unfortunately, we just lost a little bit of composure and had too many soft dismissals.”
However, Moles added: “The boys have given it 100 per cent. They’ve worked really hard in between fixtures on practice. I couldn’t ask for any more.”
Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi said the tournament had been a huge learning curve for his side, with their World Cup record 275-run defeat by Australia, where they faced an imposing fast-bowling attack on a quick Perth pitch, a particularly chastening ordeal.
“If you come from the lower stage and come to the top stage, it’s a little bit difficult to play against the top-ranking bowlers,” said Nabi.
“Against Australia in Perth, it was difficult to play in those kind of conditions,” he added.
The International Cricket Council plan to reduce the number of teams taking part at the 2019 World Cup in England from 14 to 10, effectively freezing out non-Test or Associate teams such as Afghanistan.
But their stance prompted a widespread backlash and led ICC chief executive David Richardson to tell AFP a re-think was possible.
“I think on the whole, the Associates have put up a good fist and shown that they’ve improved since the last World Cup” said Moles. “I think the trend is going up.
“My personal opinion is it’s called the World Cup, and the secret is in the name.
“There’s the Champions Trophy where it’s cut down to the Full Members (Test nations) and I think the World Cup has an opportunity to develop the game and move the game forward.
“It’s a shop window where people at our level get the opportunity to play against the best players in the world.
“Where can they test themselves if they can’t test themselves against the best?”
“There’s a certain mystique about the associate nations and I think it would be something that would be lost if they weren’t given the opportunity to do it again.” (AFP)