SYDNEY: Afghanistan coach Andy Moles said Wednesday he’d no regrets about ignoring a warning from his security consultant brother to take on one of the most dangerous jobs in world cricket.
The 54-year-old Englishman, a reliable opening batsman during an 11-year career with county side, Warwickshire, took over as coach of war-torn Afghanistan in September last year.
Moles will be in charge for their World Cup finale against a struggling England side at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday with, remarkably, both teams having the same number of points after they each beat Scotland, like Afghanistan a non-Test nation.
“I’ve got a brother who used to work for the Met (London’s Metropolitan Police) in anti-terrorism,” said Moles.
“He had his own business but has just started working for Apple as a global security manager. He gets all the information through the security channels and hears a lot more than the person on the street does.
“He advised me not to go because of the security issues. But he realises that it is a line of work that I do so he advises me on one or two things to look out for and to make me a little wiser in planning my days to limit the risk that maybe out there.”
And Moles insisted he’d personally not experienced any problems in a country where several leading players initially learnt their cricket in refugee camps in neighbouring Pakistan.
“Not at all. I’ve been there three months out of the seven-eight months I’ve been in the job.
“The danger is you get lackadaisical but I’ve not felt threatened at any time. There’s lots of military hardware around travelling the street and armed guards wherever you go –- AK47s (rifles) everywhere.
“But up to now I’ve been smart and made the right choices.”
Better curry in Birmingham
Moles, comparing the life he had as a player with Birmingham-based Warwickshire to the one he has when he is in Kabul, said: “The curries are better in Birmingham! As everybody in England who knows me, I like a curry.
“They have been very, very kind to me at the ACB (Afghanistan Cricket Board) and the general Afghan public in Kabul have made me feel very welcome.”
Tournament debutants Afghanistan’s dramatic one-wicket win over Scotland in Dunedin on February 26 was one of the highlights of this World Cup so far and Moles said the reaction back home couldn’t have been greater had it been from supporters of defending champions India.
“Cricket in Afghanistan is like the Indians going home,” he said.
“These players are idolised. When we beat Scotland there was massive celebrations in the streets all around Afghanistan.
“These players are leaders and a unifying message, not just in Afghanistan but around the world.
“Here we are talking about Afghanistan and a month ago it would only be about suicide bombers. Here we have 15 young men on a world stage celebrating a sport and they’ve done well to impress people.
“They’ve got to keep it going on now. We don’t want to stand still,” Moles added.
The International Cricket Council has signalled that the next World Cup, in England in 2019, will be cut to 10 teams from the current 14.
But there has been a widespread backlash, with ICC chief executive David Richardson telling AFP a rethink could be on the cards so that the likes of Afghanistan are not frozen out.
Asked if Afghanistan’s stunning progress from a near standing start a decade ago was a good reason to avoid cutting the number of teams taking part, Moles said: “Absolutely. It’s a World Cup –- there’s a clue in the title.” AFP