Frequent and longer tours of Bangladesh, and more matches against stronger sides like England, New Zealand and Australia, are on Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan's wishlist as his side seeks to improve in all three formats.
Afghanistan ended their tour of Bangladesh by sharing the T20I tri-series trophy with the home side following a washed-out final in Dhaka. The next bilateral series between Bangladesh and Afghanistan is scheduled for March 2022, and comprises only three ODIs and two T20Is. In the current FTP, Afghanistan do not have a bilateral series against England, and will play two Tests and three ODIs against Australia over the next three years. Their only bilateral games against New Zealand will be in the form of an ODI series just before the 2023 50-over World Cup. Against Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, the bilateral contests are all limited-overs matches.
"We should have longer series against Bangladesh, like have the main focus on 50 overs and Test matches," Rashid said at a press conference. "Cricket boards should think about it. There should be a three-match Test series. There's more room to learn and have different experiences. More 50 overs and Tests would be better for both nations."
Rashid said Afghanistan hardly got chances to play quality fast bowling against sides like Ireland and Scotland, and the lack of experience had hurt Afghanistan's chances at the World Cup. He also urged the respective boards to schedule more Tests and ODIs against Bangladesh, rather than T20Is.
"We have played only twice against Australia, New Zealand and England in the last five years [all in World Cups]. If we played more against them, we could have known their strengths and weaknesses. It should be looked into. The best example is Bangladesh. They played a lot against South Africa and ended up having the best result against them in the World Cup. If we want to be a good side, we should play more against the top sides. Not one match in four years. These teams have four fast bowlers who bowl 140-plus. We play against Scotland and Ireland, and they hardly have a 140-plus bowler."
Rashid wants Afghanistan to improve and be good enough to eventually play in the World Test Championship. "We are quite sad not to be part of the World Test Championship, but I think all we can do right now is play good Test cricket, to prove that decision wrong. But at the same time, you can't put a side in the championship who have played only three Tests," he said.
Rashid enjoyed a good tour of Bangladesh, his first series since his appointment as Afghanistan captain in all three formats. He took 11 wickets in Afghanistan's first away Test win in Chattogram, where he also scored a crucial half-century, and followed that up with six wickets in the T20I tri-series. With Afghanistan now scheduled to play a 'home' series against West Indies in November, Rashid said he would continue to bowl the same way in all three formats, remaining mindful of not putting himself under undue pressure by expecting wickets too often in the longest format.
"I never brought any difference in my bowling in any format. I try to do what I am capable of," he said. "I don't want to bring any changes to my bowling. If I bring a bit of change, I think it will affect my bowling.
"I always had one thing in mind in the Test match, that there will be a time when I won't get a wicket for 25 overs. There will be a time when I get three wickets in one over. Rather than putting extra pressure on myself, I should be mentally ready for this sort of thing."
Rashid revealed that spin-bowling greats Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne had advised him not to bowl slower and not to bring any major changes to his bowling, as it is his pace that deceives batsmen.
"I asked Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne, superstars of Test cricket, what should my mindset be in a Test match. They both told me that I shouldn't change myself, and be cool and calm in every situation," he said. "[They said that I should] just focus on bowling in the right line and length, rather than bring down my speed. They said that the quicker you bowl, it deceives the batsmen."