Afghanistan’s newly appointed batting coach, Hylton Deon Ackerman in his recent interview with ESPNshared his vision and ambition for his new team. Ackerman, considered as a great addition to the Afghan team for his rich experience in both coaching and playing cricket, came on board in January 2020. But before he could get to know the Afghan team, ‘the virus got into the way’. The only time he spent with the team was in March, in India when Afghan team played against Ireland. The team won the Twenty20 International series, held from 6 to 10 March 2020, proving their might in the field.
Ackerman said he was much impressed by the team’s efficiency on the field, and added, “They (Afghan cricket team) don’t just want to compete against the big nations but want to beat them. They don’t want to flounder at the wrong end of the rankings table.” In terms of the current focus of the team, he said they were preparing for T20s, with the Asia Cup and World T20 scheduled later in the year. Though he wants the team to have more exposure in terms of diverse playing styles ranging from T20s, ODIs to Tests as then he believed the team would be able to beat the best.
For the team to improve its performance in the test matches, Ackerman said he would like the Afghan team to play more “Tests against the likes of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and South Africa”. He said, “You learn so much playing against and with great people.”
Afghanistan Cricket Board chief executive officer, Lutfullah Stanikzai, said, “Mr. Ackerman has a vast experience in Cricket both as a player and as a Coach. I hope that his appointment as the batting coach will help in strengthening our batting unit and solve the problems that our batsmen face on the field.”
The country’s cricket board is battling financial crunch sparked by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The outbreak, which stalled funding and held back sponsors, made the board to announce 25% cut in salary of the coaching staff in May. ACB said that if the situation continues, the cut could increase to 50% in June.
“The national team support staff has been impacted. We have tried to protect jobs, we have not terminated any contracts , nor fired anyone yet. But they are the highly paid staff at the ACB, so when there is a loss of revenue, we have to take this decision of pay cuts to the national team support staff,” Stanikzai said.
Stanikzai hoped that the T20 World Cup and the Asia Cup would go as per schedule. He said, “As a relatively young board, we rely heavily on the distribution of the ICC. That is going to impact us next year and beyond if the T20 World Cup is cancelled and the Asia Cup doesn’t take place.”
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