JOHANNESBURG: It doesn’t get much tougher than Lance Klusener’s job as Afghanistan’s head coach, planning a World Cup campaign with a team that is 12,000 kilometres away.
In an ideal scenario, Klusener and his team would already be in the UAE, preparing for their first T20 World Cup match on October 25.
Instead, the former South Africa all-rounder is at home in Durban, while the rest of the team is at a low-key training camp in Afghanistan, which is still recovering from the Taliban’s takeover.
“We were planning at least a month of camp (in the UAE), but permits are still pending, so that won’t happen. In an interview, Klusener said, “We’ll strive to get there as fast as we can.”
Coaching Afghanistan was challenging before the Taliban took control, but it has gotten considerably more harder since the government change, with a series against Pakistan being postponed and the country’s professional T20 tournament being cancelled.
The Taliban’s influence has already been felt at the Afghanistan Cricket Board’s headquarters, where a new chairman and chief executive have been installed.
The eventual death of women’s cricket in Afghanistan is a big concern for Afghanistan’s standing as a full member of the ICC. Since his appointment two years ago, Klusener, 50, has travelled to Kabul “around half a dozen times” in varied weather conditions.
“I returned from Kabul a few days before the shutdown. “I believe it [the Taliban takeover] was inevitable, but the rapidity with which it occurred caught everyone off guard,” Klusener added. “That’s how countries function.” As athletes, we have no choice but to work with or around the situation.
“For approximately two and a half weeks, we had a fantastic training camp. For the time of year, the pitches were quite nice. The weather is really erratic. I went there once in the middle of the winter, when the pitches were knee-deep in snow.”
He has yet to communicate with the Taliban’s new leaders, but he believes they are “all for promoting and supporting cricket.” They appear to be really happy for us to keep on and have been extremely supportive.
“This is a massive, massive change for the country and the people. It will take some time for everyone to get back on their feet.”
They’re all spin bowlers.
“I believe we have the best spin assault in the world,” Klusener added. “Any team we play will be asked questions, especially if there is a small amount of turn available.
“Getting enough runs on the board is our biggest difficulty. That has been our main goal, ensuring that if we bat first, we will get something competitive.”
A change in captaincy is something Klusener is unconcerned about.
Rashid resigned after not being contacted throughout the selection process, and Nabi was appointed in his place.
Klusener stated that he does not anticipate any conflict between the two players. “On his shoulders, Nabi has a gorgeous head. He has a peaceful demeanour.All of the senior players get along swimmingly. He’s one of those men that flourishes in a position of authority. I believe it will bring out the best in him.”