Afghanistan coach Kabir Khan wants the ICC and more specifically the Asian Test-playing nations to provide his team with more games against Full Member opposition.
"I would like the ICC to give us more games against the Full Members as they can make a lot of difference," Kabir told Cricinfo. He compared the help England was giving European Associates with that given to Afghanistan by the Asian Full Members. "I will want India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to start helping us. England is one Full Member nation in Europe and they are supporting Ireland, Scotland and Holland. We've got four Test-playing nations around us and they are not helping."
Although Afghanistan were the ACC Trophy champions, they were omitted from the recent Asia Cup in Sri Lanka - the first time an ACC Trophy winner had not been included in the tournament. The Asian Cricket Council said including another team would have made staging the Asia Cup difficult due to the packed schedules of the Test nations.
Kabir emphasised the need for more matches because the lack of opportunities was delaying the team from reaching its full potential. "It will take time. They [Afghanistan players] need to play all year as they only come together for tournaments and camps, and that's not enough to get the best out of them. Afghanistan has not got the facilities or basic structure so we depend heavily on our Test-playing neighbours to either put one of our teams in their domestic [competitions] or take few of our players for different clubs and groom them for us."
Kabir was upbeat as he reflected on Afghanistan finishing third in the ICC World Cricket League Division One tournament in the Netherlands. "We improved our ranking, other teams struggled more, and we narrowly missed the final. We have certainly moved forward. The conditions were tough for batting and we chased in most games, which we never used to do well on a lot of occasions in past."
Despite pre-tournament tensions with the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) in the lead-up to the tournament, Khan was impressed with his side's commitment. "The team fought well in tough matches and never let it go till the last ball or last run. There was a very positive competition for places in the team and all were giving 100%."
Kabir conceded the friction with members of the ACB, and the organisation of preparations, had affected the team's showing. "I think it did as all was a mess preparation-wise, and young players who are not used to this type of mental pressure sometimes cannot cope with it. We couldn't have our camp on time and at the desired place suitable to Holland conditions. We could have gone to Holland three or four days before the tournament, acclimatised and would have played few matches too. We applied but never got visa in time."