Sydney: Afghanistan have learned a huge amount from their maiden World Cup campaign but need to be allowed to continue to play at the very top level if they are to improve in the future, coach Andy Moles said on Friday.
The Afghans signed off from the tournament with a damp squib at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Friday, losing by nine wickets to England under the Duckworth-Lewis method in a rain-disrupted final Pool A match.
Although they were never going to be in contention for a place in the quarter-finals, they did beat Scotland -- a remarkable achievement for a country where the game was all but unknown two decades ago.
"Our guys will leave this tournament with a lot of good memories and learning," Moles told reporters.
"We`ll look at where we need to get better and we`ll come back a lot stronger from this experience. Exposure at the next level has found us short on composure and a bit of technique and that`s what we`ve got to go away and learn on.
"The boys have given it 100 percent. They have worked really hard, I couldn`t ask for any more by way of their preparation."
Their chances of returning to the World Cup in four years time look thin unless the International Cricket Council reverse their decision to reduce the field from 14 to 10 teams for 2019.
"It would be a shame, I think," he said. "There`s a certain mystique about the "associate" nations and something would be lost if they weren`t given the opportunity to do it again.
"It is called the World Cup and the secret is in the name. If it`s a World Cup let`s have as many nations playing as possible.
"It`s an opportunity to develop the game and move the game forward. It`s a shop window where people at our level get the opportunity to play against the best players in the world.
"Where can they test themselves if they can`t test themselves against the best?"
Moles said the players should be proud of what they achieved at the tournament, not just in how they played but also in how they continue to change perceptions about their war-torn country.
"We would have liked to have done a bit better in some of the games but that`s something we`ll work on," he said.
"The Afghan players are a very proud bunch of young men that want to do well, not for themselves but for reunification and the message it sends around the world about Afghanistan."