Andy Moles, who has been a key influence in the rise of the Afghanistan team, will now be their director of cricket. The 58-year-old former coach has also been appointed chief selector, as the team tries to navigate its way out of a patchy 2019.
Moles has the experience of being part of the system, having coached Afghanistan from 2014 to 2015, a stint during which they made their maiden World Cup appearance. He has since been preparing the country’s youngsters for the step up to international cricket, working at Under-19 and Under-23 levels. When Phil Simmons resigned from his post as head coach of the senior team soon after the 2019 World Cup, Moles filled in as interim coach and was in the dressing room when Afghanistan secured their dramatic Test victory over Bangladesh in Chattogram.
Last week, Afghanistan had appointed former South Africa allrounder Lance Klusener as the new head coach for a tenure running up to 2020, with the possibility of an extension based on results. Rivash Gobind, former South Africa Under-19 cricketer who served as the coach of South Africa’s domestic team Warriors, has also joined the team’s management and coaching structure.
Afghanistan, widely considered one of the most watchable teams in recent times, had gone into the World Cup earlier this year with much promise but were hampered by various off-field issues. A few weeks before the tournament was to begin, the ACB sacked captain Asghar Afghan and replaced him with Gulbadin Naib. The move came under fire from senior Afghanistan players such as Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, even before the tournament began, and was followed by them losing each of their nine games.
Some way into that World Cup, Mohammad Shahzad was sent home with a knee injury but the wicketkeeper-batsman claimed he was fit and that he had been unfairly left out. In August, he was suspended by the ACB for a year for a breach of contract.
There was, however, joy for Afghanistan after the World Cup as they beat Bangladesh in a riveting Test match last month. Rashid, who took over as Test captain, was the star of that game, scoring a half-century and picking up 11 crucial wickets even as rain and bad light threatened to end the five-day game in a draw.