Afghanistan will need a lot more cricket against established Test teams’ A sides if this promotion to Test is to work, their coach Phil Simmons and India captain Ajinkya Rahane feel. Having finished the Test inside two days, Rahane was complimentary of the potential of Afghanistan’s bowling attack – “they can do damage to any team” – but he said the batsmen needed work even if it came through simulating Test situations in the nets.
“I think with us there has to be a lot more A team cricket played against big countries by some players – players just below 18 – in England, India, Bangladesh, Australia,” Simmons said. “I think that’s the best way for us to close this gap.”
Simmons hoped his side would get to play tour games against Test sides that come to India, as has been promised by the BCCI secretary.
Rahane said they need not wait for the matches to come their way, and that’s because they have bowlers in their ranks who can give them good practice. “Definitely, four-day games and Tests will help them a lot,” Rahane said. “Practising with red ball regularly, creating those match situations, because they have got some good bowlers, they will learn from that. It’s not [always] about in the match, but creating those situations in practice also and thinking and visualising that as batsmen how they are going to play against each opponent. Test is about creating those situations even if you are batting in the nets. It’s all in the mind, and skill-wise technically, every layer is similar. If they get mentally tough and find their technique, it will be good.”
Simmons isn’t the one to hide behind the enormity of the occasion. He said he can grant his side the benefit of nerves in the first session, but the way they lost was disappointing. He hadn’t had a meeting when he spoke at the press conference but there would be some explaining to do for some of the shots played. The same he said for the spinners: “I don’t think they by no means happy with how they performed.”
Simmons always knew it was going to be tough. Now his team experienced it first-hand. However, he has seen this team learn a lot, and expected them to get to it. “Their learning curve is huge,” Simmons said. “I do believe they want to succeed, they want to be good at it and they work very hard and we now know that we have to work five times as hard as we did in the last four games. I believe that they will get there.”