DUBAI // Kabir Khan, the coach of Afghanistan, has urged owners from the Indian Premier League (IPL) to take a chance and sign up his players. Kabir, a former Pakistan Test bowler, insists there are bargains to be had among his national side, and said his players would benefit from the exposure to the lucrative 20-over league.
"Our players are open to it, our board is open to it, and as a coach, I want someone to step up and ask for my players," said Kabir, whose side will play at the World Twenty20 championships in the Caribbean from the end of April. "They are going to be worth their money if somebody buys them - in IPL or any other sort of cricket. They would perform there. "It is not like they would go there and not perform. They would be a major part of the team. They would win games for those teams.
"They haven't had any offers as yet, but the way they are performing, I know they would do well." The 20-over boom has provided a new route to riches for players from beyond the Test world. A number of Irish players benefited from their strong display in the 2007 50-over World Cup by securing contracts in the rebel Indian Cricket League. Rizwan Cheema, the big-hitting Canada opener, and Ryan ten Doeschate, the Netherlands and Essex all-rounder, featured on the most recent IPL auction list.
Afghanistan also have their own share of players whose free-spirited style would be well suited to the big leagues of cricket's most abridged version. Mohammad Nabi, an all-rounder who bowls off-spin, is the side's best player. He has made centuries in Pakistan domestic cricket, where he plays for Pakistan Customs, and also had a scholarship with the MCC Young Cricketers programme at Lord's. Nabi suggested he would not be overawed by the competition, given the standard of players he has regularly faced in Pakistan and his performances in helping Afghanistan win the World Twenty20 qualifier in the Emirates.
"I would like to play in that competition. There are a lot of players like Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal and Umar Gul, who I have played against in first-class cricket," he said. "It is very good experience playing against them. After that, these games don't feel like they carry much pressure, and I can go and score runs for my team. "These [Afghanistan] players are very clean hitters of the ball. They can play huge shots, but they can now also play calmly as well when the situation requires it.
"Now there is a plan and they stick to the plan. Before they might not have known how to do it, but this is what they have learned from playing regular cricket against good opposition." firstname.lastname@example.org