Afghanistan news May 30, 2011

Afghanistan must play more at home - Latif

ESPNcricinfo staff

Afghanistan need to develop their infrastructure and play competitive matches with more regularity, coach Rashid Latif has said. His team did not play to potential in the recently-concluded series against Pakistan A, which they lost 3-0, a result Latif blamed on lack of match practice.

"It is important that Afghan players play more on their home grounds," Latif, who took over as coach last year, told AFP. "The situation in the country is improving, so it is imperative that Afghanistan has grounds where the players play regularly and not after gaps.

"We did not perform to our potential [against Pakistan A]. We were capable of doing better than this, but the main reason [for the losses] is that we are not playing regularly. In the last ten years, Afghanistan has not built a ground and because of that players have to go to the UAE and Pakistan to play, which comes about after big gaps, and players tend to get unfit."

Afghanistan have rapidly ascended through the ranks in recent years. They qualified for last year's World Twenty20, won the silver medal in the 2010 Asian Games in China after beating a second-string Pakistan team in the semi-finals and also won the Intercontinental Cup in their debut season.

With the team doing well, Latif said better infrastructure was also required to groom the next generation of players. "It's imperative that we have grounds in Afghanistan and with more playing facilities [so] we can have players from the next generation [coming through], and don't have to rely on this set of players forever."

The ICC, the Asian Cricket Council and other Test nations, Latif said, should pay Afghanistan special attention, because "unlike other Associate countries, a big majority [of people in Afghanistan] play cricket. Countries like Sri Lanka, India, England and Australia need to give tours to Afghanistan, so that they learn more and more."