One of the biggest flaws in Afghanistan’s World Cup 2019 campaign was the utter failure of their captain Gulbadin Naib. He took shocking decisions, was extremely unimpressive with the ball and bat and simply couldn’t inspire confidence in his troops. The result was that Afghanistan went on lose all 9 of their World Cup games.
They came into the World Cup with a lot of promise. But the bizarre decision by the selectors to suddenly induct Gulbadin into the role of a leader and remove the experienced and much-loved Asghar Afghan really hit the team hard.
But now, thankfully, the selectors appear to be making the right amends and thinking of the future. Rashid Khan, Afghanistan’s biggest superstar, has been appointed as captain across formats for the team and Asghar Afghan will be his deputy.
Apparently, Rashid had been offered the captaincy role prior to the World Cup as well but the 20-year-old declined, perhaps to focus on his game. Unfortunately, Rashid had a World Cup to forget, picking up only 6 wickets at an average of 69.33.
However, this responsibility might just be the best thing to happen to Rashid and the team as he can induce fresh energy and hope in them. Also, Rashid has led Afghanistan in the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe in 2018 when Asghar was unavailable and has also led Band-e-Amir Dragons and Kabul Zwanan in T20 cricket.
Yes, he lacks experience as a leader. But Afghanistan is still young in international cricket anyway. They need someone sharp and smart and having a good understanding of the game to be their guiding light. Moreover, their captain should be someone who can lead from the front. And Rashid Khan scores on all these points. He is a street-smart cricketer and a thinking bowler. He reads the game very well, is aggressive and would have a proper vision for the future of Afghanistan cricket.
Having a young and dynamic captain for the team can really reap rich dividends. Graeme Smith of South Africa is perhaps the best example of that. He was inducted in the leadership role in his young 20s and made South Africa stronger than they ever were. Rashid Khan can follow on Smith’s footsteps and chart a great future for his country.
What will help Rashid is that unlike other teams, Afghanistan’s cricketing calendar isn’t chock-a-block. Their next assignment is a full all-format series against the West Indies in India, their acquired home, in November this year. He has enough time to plan the series and choose the squad he would need to take on the opponents. Perhaps, Rashid’s biggest challenge would be the 2020 T20I World Cup in Australia. This is a format Rashid excels in and he also has the experience of playing T20 cricket in Australia. With proper planning and execution, Afghanistan might well be the surprise package in the T20 World Cup 2020 under Rashid’s tutelage.
Rashid is currently placed No. 1 in the T20I bowling rankings and No. 8 in ODI rankings for bowlers. He is a champion cricketer and an inspiration for countless Afghanistanis. If he gets able support from his players and his guided well, Rashid can lead his team to great heights while also keep improving as a bowler.