Former Australian international Geoff Lawson, previously Pakistan coach and then one-time ACC Level III course presenter is to be coach of Afghanistan at the ICC U/19 World Cup in Australia in August. Announcing the appointment, Afghanistan Cricket Board High Performance Program Manager Bashir Stanikzai, said “We approached Lawson because he has great knowledge and is a local”.

National coach Kabir Khan is unable to be with the U-19 team in Malaysia and Australia due to the senior Afghanistan side having an Intercontinental Cup match in July as well as their own preparations for this year’s ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September.

The Afghan U-19s will be warming up for their Australian campaign with the ACC U-19 Asia Cup from which they and Nepal proceed to the World Cup, having won through from the ACC U-19 Elite Cup in Thailand last year. Geoff Lawson was first introduced to the Afghanistan Cricket Board in India in 2010 soon after the senior team’s appearance at the ICC World Twenty20. He has also just finished a spell as a television commentator during the recent Australian tour of the Caribbean. “As we are sending the team prior to the U/19 World Cup to acclimatize and use to the pitches, so we wanted someone from there to assist the team and prepare them according to the local conditions. Geoff Lawson is a well-known name in world cricket and it will boost the morale of players under his experience. He has coached Pakistan for almost two years and also coached IPL Kochi Tuskers so this is a big opportunity for our young players to learn something from him and perform much better than last time,” says Mr. Stanikzai. A specialist strength and conditioning coach is also being sought.

The Afghanistan U-19s were a little out of their depth at the last U/19 World Cup in Canada as it is one thing to be best among Asian non-Test playing teenagers, it is another to be able to compete at world level with future full internationals. “Game sense, singles, strike rotation, playing to the conditions, all these are what is needed in these youngsters”, says former captain and now Special Advisor to the Afghanistan Cricket Board Raees Ahmadzai. As ever, ambitions remain high in Afghanistan and with plenty of funding the team will reach Queensland on July 21, three weeks ahead of their first match.

Filed May 16th, 2012