The current atmosphere around Afghanistan cricket couldn’t be more different to what it was at the end of the World Cup earlier this year. After a dismal campaign in which they struggled to close games and capitalize on key moments, the team secured its second ever Test victory last week when they thumped Bangladesh by 224 runs.
And Andy Moles, the interim coach of Afghanistan who was initially brought on as a batting consultant has said that the victory has given his players a lot of “self-belief”, as they come to grips with life in the longest format of the game.
“This Test victory was huge not just because it was a Test match win, but because it has given us the self-belief,” Moles told Cricbuzz.
“Bangladesh is a very difficult place to come and win. Whenever I talked to the players, I tried to make the players understand and accept the importance of doing the basics for longer. We are going to (have to) do the boring stuff for longer, we are going (have to) to block the ball, and we've got to understand during the batting that we needed that time.
“The more balls we face, the more runs we are going to make. That is the simple ideology. You saw in the last Test match. The guys who were able to bat 150-200 balls were the ones who were successful.
“They've got to have total trust in their defence. We are trying to make them understand that their defence has to be strong, trusted. Rotating the strike if they can do that than hitting fours and sixes would not be a problem for Afghanistan.”
Moles also spoke about how more than the technical aspect, he has had to work on the mindset of the players who are fed on a diet of T20 and T10 cricket, and said that a change in culture is what was needed.
“In our culture, players are brought up in T20 and T10 cricket. That's what they play. Trying to get them to explore thinking differently about how we approach our innings is probably a challenge, but it is not difficult. It's not difficult to talk. It's very simple,” he said.
“The simple thing is players must play balls, they must bat time. If they cannot do it, we won't be successful in Test cricket. If we can't bat 50-60 overs, you can't expect to make runs. The team needs to bat 130-140 overs in the first innings minimum. If we can do that, we will be successful.”
Afghanistan’s next assignment is the tri-nation ODI series involving Zimbabwe and Bangladesh from Saturday.