Ahmedabad: Coach Jonathan Trott rued the missed chances but took pride in the way Afghanistan were able to win matches in this World Cup with not just their bowling and hoped to have a bigger pool of players going forward.
With four wins in nine games, Afghanistan have been the story of the World Cup as they notched up victories over former champions England, Sri Lanka and Pakistan to come close to snatching a semifinal berth.
The players from the strife-torn nation ended their campaign after a defeat to South Africa by five wickets on Friday.
“If you’d said we won four games you probably would have taken it – especially after losing the first game against Bangladesh,” Trott said during the post-match press conference.
“But it’s still a case of sitting here today thinking there’s a few other games that we left out there that we could have perhaps won.”
“So as a coach and as a member of the team, we’re disappointed with that, but you can’t have everything. You can’t win always. But I see some good improvement.”
Bowling has always been their strength but in this World Cup, Ibrahim Zadran (376), Azmat Omarzai (353), Rahmat Shah (320) and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi (310) shone with the bat as Afghanistan managed to chase down targets in three of their four wins.
“Normally, with the side, you’d say bowling would be the strength,” Trott said.
“So, you’d try and put the pressure on the bowlers – but to be able to knock off targets in pretty comfortable fashion and responsible fashion certainly shows that we’re not sort of one way inclined to win cricket games. We can win in various ways.”
“I’m anxious to watch IPL auction when his name comes up”.
Heaping praise on Azmatullah Omarzai, who remained unbeaten 97, Trott said he will keep a watch on IPL auction to see the all-rounder’s name come up.
“There’s plenty of raw talent, it’s the case with a guy like Azmat, very ambitious but also works incredibly hard, good work ethic. I’ve obviously seen him for a year and three months, four months, and I’ve always been amazed at how he can time the ball.”
“Very special talent and I think hopefully will only develop and become a fantastic player for Afghanistan. I’m anxious to watch the IPL auction when his name comes up.”
Trott said ‘next progression is to have more of a squad with regards to more players.’
“It’s for the first time really been able to sort of select a side depending on the conditions whereas before you’d normally have 11 but you’re seeing now the emergence of players, with the experience of franchise cricket they are becoming very, very good players.”
“So, there’s certainly a bigger pool I think than in the past to be able to select from, or certainly experienced players or well-known names to be able to call upon, like Naveen [ul-Haq] coming in and playing ODI cricket, and we saw the impact, he very nearly got us a win against Australia with all the wickets with the new ball.”
“So, the future’s bright, it’s our job as a side and us as management coaches to make sure we nurture that and make sure that we’re going in the right direction.”
Ahead of the game, captain Hashmatullah Shahidi had batted for more ODIs and Tests going forward and coach Trott too echoed his views.
“There certainly are Test matches and a few ODIs and T20s. There is ambition to grow in all three formats of the game, so that’s exciting.”
“And I think that’s brilliant that they’re able to play against other nations in the longer format of the game, the purest form as some people would say. That’s always a work in progress, so exciting times ahead.”
(Published 11 November 2023, 08:13 IST)