Latif calls for Afghan facilities, academies

Karachi: Afghanistan`s cricket coach Rashid Latif called today for international support to build proper facilities and academies to allow his team to build on spectacular early success.

The former Pakistan wicketkeeper took over as coach in September and guided the nascent side to silver in the Asian Games in November before winning the five-day Inter-Continental Cup in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.

"Afghanistan has learnt how to win," Latif told reporters. "Now I think they need to develop more and more grounds at home for the promotion of the game, otherwise their standard will decline."

Latif, who played 37 Tests and 166 one-day matches for Pakistan, urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) to help the Afghanistan administration.

"If Afghanistan wants to acquire Test status in the next two years, which is my target, then they need to develop a few grounds and establish academies and in this regard I think the ICC and the ACC need to send experts to Afghanistan".Latif said Afghanistan was a fertile place to promote cricket.

"The passion of cricket in Afghanistan is more than in Pakistan and Bangladesh and I think it`s a great window for promotion of the game," said Latif, describing the Asian Games semi-final triumph over Pakistan as historic.

"The whole of Afghanistan celebrated the Asian Games silver medal, and then the Inter-Continental Cup was a great achievement and we now deserve to play more against top nations like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh."

Latif said the best thing about Afghan players was their nationalism. “Even I`m learning from them," said Latif, known for his fight against match-fixing in 1990s. "I went there to coach them but even I`m learning things like nationalism and respect of the teacher from them.

"It is in Afghan culture to respect their teacher and they listen to each and everything I tell them and train as hard as anyone in the world and that`s why their fitness level is comparable to Australian and South African players."

Latif said he was trying to arrange more cricket for his team. “If the associate teams for next year`s World Cup agree then we may have warm-up matches against them in Dubai and then we have the Inter-Continental Cup in May," said Latif.