x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Unsettled Kabir could return to Pakistan

UAE coach, who says he is unable to stay away from family in Peshawar, is open to working with Afghanistan again but denies signing a deal.

Kabir Khan is relaxed about talk of him rejoining Afghanistan.
Kabir Khan is relaxed about talk of him rejoining Afghanistan.

DUBAI // The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) is again preparing to search for a new coach after Kabir Khan confirmed he is considering returning to Pakistan for family reasons.

Kabir on Thursday denied he had agreed a deal to rejoin Afghanistan, the side he guided to World Twenty20 qualification in 2010, but did acknowledge he is likely to leave the UAE next month.

The former Pakistan bowler informed Dilawar Mani, the chief executive of the ECB, of his intention to return to his native Peshawar as his wife and children have been unable to settle in the Emirates.

“When I joined the UAE [at the end of 2010] I wanted to prove to Afghanistan and myself what I could do with teams,” said Kabir, whose two stints in charge of the UAE book-ended a highly successful spell with the Afghans.

“A lot of people said Afghanistan were a very talented team, so I thought I would challenge myself by pushing another team.

“I joined without planning, because I wanted to prove myself. But, at the same time, I am a family man.”

Kabir had hoped to relocate his wife and children to Sharjah, having served a successful first year of what was planned to be a three-year term here.

However, the fact he was unable to find a suitable school for his children has prompted him to consider leaving a role in which he had been thriving.

“My wife was not very keen to be here while the kids are in Pakistan,” he said.

“I had to decide whether to stay here and ruin my family life, or go back and be with my family.

“If my wife said to me tomorrow that she is OK for me to carry on coaching the UAE, then I would stay.”

The ECB have given Kabir, who was with them at a selection meeting ahead of next month’s Intercontinental Cup tie again Scotland, two weeks to consider his decision, and are hopeful of finding a way to facilitate him staying.

“We would love for him to stay on, but we would never force anyone to if they wanted to go,” Mani said.

“It is a decision that can only be made with the support of his family. Pakistan offers the education he wants for his children. That is a personal decision and we can’t intervene.

“If he does decide to stay, and goes back and forth often enough, we would facilitate that, of course.”

The UAE have enjoyed a sharp upturn in fortunes over the past year with Kabir at the helm.

They have enjoyed unprecedented success in the four-day Intercontinental Cup, as well as making a successful start in the new World Cup qualifying league.

Kabir said yesterday that “only 10 per cent of the job has been done” here, and that “things are going according to plan”.

He refuted the statement, posted on the Afghanistan Cricket Board’s website, that he had “returned to coach” their national team, saying nothing has been agreed.

Kabir also intimated he would be keen to explore the possibilities of a role within the Pakistan Cricket Board, coaching at age-group or A-team level.

He did acknowledge, however, that a return to the Afghan set-up, which has been in a state of flux since he left in October 2010, could still be a possibility.

As a coach Kabir enjoyed rich success while in charge of Afghanistan before stepping down, citing interference from the regime who were in charge of their cricket board at that time.

He commuted to Kabul, often without a visa, from his home across the border with Pakistan, while in charge of their national team. The Afghans, who ironically play their home matches in Sharjah, also stage regular coaching camps in his home town of Peshawar.

The players who served under him are already excited by the possibility of his return.

“He has been a lucky coach for us,” said Mohammed Shahzad, the Afghan wicketkeeper who is part of the ICC Combined XI who face an England XI on Saturday in Dubai.

“He understands our language, he understands our psyche, and it is best for us that he comes back as our coach.”


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