x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Kabir can give UAE a boost

Thanks to Khan's influence, Afghanistan's players have passport stamps from genuine cricket playing destinations.

If Kabir Khan's credentials for the job of UAE national team coach were in any doubt, then even the live scoreboard tab on cricinfo.com was working in his favour yesterday. 

Underneath the link to the page for the first Test between India and Australia was the access point for a fixture between Afghanistan and Kenya in Nairobi. The scorecard reported that the Afghans were rapidly building on a first innings lead in excess of 300 against the nation who could historically lay claim to be the best from outside the Test sphere.

This is the same Afghan side who used to lose regularly to the UAE. They began playing less than a decade ago, after refugees returned from Pakistan armed with a knowledge of a new sport called cricket. 

When Afghanistan first played international matches, Kenya were reaching the semi-final of the 50-over World Cup. Kabir cannot claim all the credit for Afghanistan's rise. They were on the march before he was in charge, but the job he did smoothing the rough edges is highly commendable.

Thanks to Kabir's influence, Afghanistan's players have passport stamps from genuine cricket playing destinations, like the Caribbean, to go with the ones from the nether reaches of cricket's sphere, like Jersey and Tanzania, when they were just starting out. 

Some have even got a genuine chance of playing in the Indian Premier League. Kabir frequently trumpeted their cases to do so.When the Emirates Cricket Board ended its pursuit of Mudassar Nazar, Kabir was the obvious choice. If he stays for the long-term, the UAE's cricket future could be bright.

arizvi@thenational.ae