Lalchand Rajput will not continue as Afghanistan cricket team's head coach after the Afghanistan Cricket Board decided not to renew his contract beyond August.
“ACB would like to thank Mr. Rajput for his satisfactory performance during his time as Afghanistan’s Head Coach," the board said in a release. "ACB is currently in the process of recruiting a new coach for the National Cricket Team.”
— Afghan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) August 20, 2017
While the move came in as surprise especially with Afghanistan achieving considerable success under the former Mumbai captain, including achieving the Test status, Rajput confirmed to Firstpost that safety concern was the major factor behind the two parties parting ways.
The Afghanistan Board wanted Rajput to work out of Kabul, an idea which the former India opener wasn't comfortable with.
"They (Board) told me, since Afghanistan is a Test playing country, we want our coach to come to Kabul," Rajput told Firstpost. "I said to them that it was agreed earlier only that I don't want to come.
"The committee felt that I should spend time here (in Kabul) and look after the 'A' team and fringe players also," Rajut added.
Afghanistan has been ravaged by a series of terrorist attacks of late, especially Kabul. Amidst border skirmishes and the alleged proxy warfare with Pakistan, the board even scrapped cricket ties with the neighbours following a blast in capital's diplomatic district that left at least 90 killed and 400 wounded. So Rajput's concerns are understandable.
Two years ago, the Afghanistan cricket team had shifted its base from Sharjah to Greater Noida after signing an MoU with the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Rajput asked the board to send the 'A' players to Noida to train and practice but it wasn't financially feasible and also, they wanted the coach to spend time in Kabul.
"I told them that's not possible. Kabul is not a safe place. They tell that it's safe but my family also didn't allow me to go there," Rajput said.
Rajput also played down the fact that the Afghanistan Board undergoing a series of reforms, which has led to over 30 employees being sacked or shuffled by the ACB top brass, had any part to play in the board not extending his contract.
"I don't think that (Board reforms) had anything to do with not extending my contract. They just wanted me to come and stay there," Rajput said.
Rajput took over as head coach of Afghanistan in June last year and since then the team had achieved a win percentage of 61 across all formats. They won six out of 10 limited-overs series and managed to draw their first ever ODI series in West Indies. Rajput termed his time with the Afghanistan team as 'fantastic' and has no complaints at all.
"I really enjoyed the time with the players. They responded well. I had no problem and you can see the results also. We had really done well. We got the Test status, everything was perfect," Rajput said.
Rajput asserted that Afghanistan had a bright future ahead and communication will be a key factor when the new coach steps in.
"The coach should understand their culture and communicate with them properly. I could speak in Hindi and hence I could communicate better," the 55-year-old said.
"They are a very talented side, that's for sure. Proper guidance and perseverance will make them a really tough team," Rajput signed off.
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