x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Old foes and former teammates fuel new rivalries in the ACC Trophy

Once teammates, Kabir Khan and Aaqib Javed now find themselves testing their strategies against each other through the teams they coach, writes Paul Radley.

The ACC Trophy tournament has given UAE national coach Aaqib Javed a chance to test his strategies against former Pakistan teammate Kabir Khan, who coaches Afghanistan.
The ACC Trophy tournament has given UAE national coach Aaqib Javed a chance to test his strategies against former Pakistan teammate Kabir Khan, who coaches Afghanistan.


DUBAI // The ACC Trophy, the 50-over competition currently taking place in the emirates for the next best nations in Asia after those playing Test cricket, represents different things to different people.

To the majority of mainstream supporters it is a curious tab on the "other cricket" desktop scoreboard section of cricinfo, which only gets clicked when work is really dull.

For the players involved - at least those other than the UAE team - it is a chance for a decent holiday allied to some genuinely competitive cricket.

For the upwards-looking players from Afghanistan, it is an opportunity to right some of the wrongs which crept into their game during a stay at the World Twenty20 that was too brief for their liking.

And for the majority of the coaches, it is like an Old Boys' club for retired Test players.

Of the 10 nations involved, each of whom is in a varying state of emergence in the world game, six are coached by ex-Test players.

That 60 per cent strike-rate matches exactly that of those currently in charge of the Test nations themselves, and two of those - Zimbabwe's English coach Alan Butcher and Bangladesh's Australian Stuart Law - were one-Test wonders.

"Sometimes it still feels like we are competing against each other," Kabir Khan, the Afghanistan coach, said of his relationship with the four Sri Lankan coaches and Aaqib Javed, his fellow Pakistani, involved in the ACC Trophy.

"When you are in charge of a national team you want to mould them in the way you want the game to be played.

"Aaqib has a different frame of mind, and the other coaches have their own approaches, so the games are a battle between our different methods."

Kabir actually encouraged Aaqib to apply for the UAE job which he vacated when he left for a second stint in charge of the Afghans.

Now, a few months in to their respective new jobs, the two former Pakistan bowlers are competing against each other - or at least the teams they coach are.

"We should be proud people that we are able to transfer our knowledge on to the next people straight away," Aaqib said. "Even if we are friends, it is competition. I was good friends with Waqar [Younis, his former teammate in the Pakistan bowling attack] but when I was on the field I was competing with him. Having competition there is a good thing."

Duleep Mendis, the former Sri Lankan Test player who has taken charge of Oman on a short-term deal, believes ex-internationals players should feel compelled to assist cricket's developing nations.

"It is the responsibility of the Test nations to help the non-Test nations to come up the ladder," said Mendis, whose Oman side were coached by another ex-Pakistan international, Iqbal Sikander, when they were last here in March.

"They are looking for assistance, for expert advice and I think it is the responsibility of all international players who played in the past to come and help raise the standard of cricket in these countries."


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