23 February 2012

Asif Khan - An Interview With The Captain Of The German Cricket Team

Hi guys and guyettes, I'm very proud to present to you my interview with the captain of the German cricket team, Asif Khan! Asif reviews the past two years with the German national side and gives us an outlook to the future. 

This is my second interview with a German player and my first official one for the Cricket Germany website, you can find the German translation there, big thanks goes to Mr. Cricket Germany Brian Mantle for granting me this opportunity, and of course Asif for replying in detail to all my questions.

BTW: You can follow Cricket Germany on Twitter (@Cricket_Germany) and friend them on Facebook (Cricket Germany).

Hope you'll enjoy the interview, feel free to operate the share buttons if you like it ;)


Asif Khan batting v Botswana, WCL Div 7, May 4th 2011 (c) ICC


► ► ► Asif, the German team has enjoyed a magnificent and fulminant series of successes in the last two years, starting from edging out arch rivals France from the promotion to the World Cricket League Div 8 during the European Div 2 Championship in 2010, then storming into the final of the World Cricket League Div 8 in Kuwait, and culminating in the trip to Botswana for the participation in the World Cricket League Div 7. Many strong competitors have been defeated, convincingly or in thrilling and entertaining nailbiters, which had the fans clinging to the edge of their seats. Overall, Germany has played a lot of good cricket in the recent past.

That’s correct, the last two years have probably been the brightest for German cricket in a long time and that’s due to the players as well as the support staff. The win against France was extremely critical to us as the players started to believe in their abilities and what all was possible if we played and hung on as a team.  We always go into a game expecting a somewhat nailbiting encounter as nothing separates teams on paper at our level. We always seem to enjoy this challenge and it brings out the best in us, which is evident in our performances.

The current team is an excellent blend of experienced and young cricketers, which is the key to our rise. Keith [Thompson], Brian Fell, Ben [Das] and DCB as a whole have been instrumental in doing the background work of arranging practice tours, indoors training, and made sure we were looked after well everywhere. Keith in his role as a coach has been very proactive. He involves players, motivates them, knows their strengths and is as excited outside the boundary rope as us inside it right through a game.


► ► ► Could you outline your personal highlights as a player and with regards to the team? Which matches did you deem the most important, the hardest to win, and the most enjoyable?

I’ve been a part of the senior side since 2004, but the last two years have been the most exciting ones personally.  There has been no better sight than seeing this team grow from strength to strength one game to another. Captaincy is an added responsibility, but the support from my team has definitely made my task a lot easier. Valuable suggestions in crunch situations or a word on correcting a fielder from the wicket keeper is something I always appreciate.

Asif Khan takes a quick single v Gibraltar, Euro Div 2 2010
There have been some highlights in my career as a German player:

  • My first score of 50 plus runs for Germany will always remain special. That was against Israel, playing my second game.
  • The partnership with Farooq [Ahmed] against France in Euro Div 2, which got us back in that game, which we eventually won.
  • Leading Germany in the World Cricket League Divisions 8 and 7.
  • My partnership of 262 runs with Milan [Fernando] against Gibraltar in Kuwait, where Milan amassed 151 runs and I scored 109, I will always remember as one of my most entertaining innings.
  • Scoring a century against Botswana for the 3rd place play-off in 2010 was vital to avenge the close defeat against them earlier in the tournament [World Cricket Leagie Div. 7].

Other than that, the tight wins against France and Zambia were very satisfying and kick started our tournaments in the best possible way.  Those were must win games, whereas the losses to Botswana and Nigeria in World Cricket League Div 7 were bitter. A single victory would have ensured tickets to Division 6 and Singapore.

Every victory has been significant to every player, fan and follower. The appreciation and flow of messages the team management receives from our fans in Germany and worldwide makes us really proud to be representing this country. Our friends and families all over the world follow Germany’s scorecard and cheer for us whenever we’re in a tournament. That is something very special to me personally.


► ► ► In 2012 there are no ICC events scheduled for Germany, but in view of the World Cricket League Div 7 in 2013 Germany is going to take part in a few bilateral and trilateral contests. Can you elaborate on the details a bit, and what do you think are Germany's chances in these matches?

2012 will be a vital year for German cricket to enhance our talent pool and look into players for the future. Friendly fixtures will be the ideal opportunity for young talents as well as seasoned players, who have been in the squads, to cement their places for coming tournaments.

The obvious goal for me would be to win these contests convincingly, play competitive cricket and at the same time give newcomers enough opportunity to show off their talent. I would take these games to familiarize myself with new players, and at the same time improve our skills in real match situations.

I feel there is enough talent amongst our youths (U19, U23 and senior team pool). They need to be nurtured and given enough opportunity to be a part of the national set up and play as many matches as possible. Real match situations and practice sessions where we work on our weaknesses is something I feel we’re missing right now.

In an international tournament lasting 10 days we need to ensure our squad is mentally and physically fighting fit and have prepared well for the games. I know it’s not easy, but the bottom line is that the ICC's funding to the DCB is directly proportionate to the senior team’s performance. Therefore, any fixture involving the senior team should be considered top priority by the DCB.


► ► ► How important was the European 50 over championship as a preparation for the World Cricket League, and do you think its loss can be sufficiently compensated?

Real pity that the 50 over format has now been replaced by T20. They’re two different formats and cannot be interchanged.

The 50 over format provided an ideal platform to gear up for the World Cricket League in respect to match situation, playing conditions and the needed fitness levels.  In T20, the pitch or weather conditions do not change much, there’s little chance to rebuild an innings or keep applying pressure on the opposition, searching for wickets. T20 is more about saving runs and you can consider yourself lucky if you manage to get 7 or more wickets.

Not to forget that T20 is an important format going forward and we need to start taking it very seriously, mainly because it’s a short cut to the T20 world cup.


► ► ► In the 2011 European T20 tournament, as well as in Botswana, Germany tried out a few new players. Who are in your opinion the brightest prospects for the future, who we should watch out for? How much fluctuation do you expect until 2013?

Asif Khan (background) with youngsters
Shafraz Samsudeen (l.) and Tarun Rawat (m.),
Euro Div 2 2010  (c) DCB
Keith has worked hard in the background looking for fresh talent, travelling to nearly all regional and DCB tournament finals and pinning down on probable candidates for the national team. He strives to find the correct blend of young enthusiastic as well experienced players to represent Germany at international tournaments. Over the years I have played in various sets of German teams, but to me the 14 -16 players since Jersey 2010 have been the pick.  It’s vital to encourage and get in new players so they gain experience by playing alongside seniors and carry on in the same vein as the past teams.

In my eyes we’ve got around 10 standout cricketers between 22 and 28 years who could take on the mantle of responsibility for the next decade. They’re aggressive and possess good understanding of the game. They need to be adequately coached and made to understand their roles and expectations from them in the team. Would be unfair not to name all of them but Kashif Mahmood, Dilshan Rajudeen, Ashwin Prakash, Tarun Rawat, and Shafraz Shamsudeen are on the brink of cementing their places in the senior sides. Ritwik Marwaha and his brother Tushar have done well playing for the U19s and they’re highly talented.

I’m sure there are many more gifted cricketers all over Germany and the DCB has put up a road map for 2012 to unearth these talents. For 2013 I would not expect a huge face change to the national set up except for 2 -3 new faces, but looking into 2014 onwards I would expect all the above mentioned to play regularly for Germany.


► ► ► Where can you see Germany progress from 2013 on, do you think German cricket will hit a glass ceiling at some point, or how much further can the team in the present state and circumstances ascend, if everybody clicks? Which goals are you planning to achieve during your tenure as a German captain?

Asif Khan with Botswana skipper Akrum Chand,
WCL Div 7 2011
Well, nothing is impossible if the desire is there in you to get to your goal at any cost. It’s the same for me and every member of the senior side. We collectively try till the end to get a win out of any situation every time we go out and play.

The ICC is already preparing a glass ceiling for associates by blocking their way to the 50 over world cup. Ireland beating England and getting the better of Pakistan proves the potential in associates and given the exposure to its players, they’re bound to do well.  Personally I do not see any reason for German cricketers not doing well at international competitions, given enough opportunities to work on their skills, play and practise together more often, along with friendly tours.

I take it step by step and my immediate priority would be to get to Division 6 of the World Cricket League in 2012. This is achievable if every member of the team is on top of his game and ready for the challenge. We all know how close we were to Div 6 in Botswana and we feel it’s still a job undone.

Winning a World Cricket League and Euro T20 leg would be dreams coming true for all of us. Not to mention that playing for and leading Germany has been an honor in itself. I thank all those who considered I was good enough to play for Germany and especially the support I’ve received from my family and friends.

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Great stuff from our captain and king, honest and optimistic. Here's hoping for a great 2012 season!
GO THE GERMS 


Cheers,
Wes

5 comments:

Dasun Sandeepa said...

Hey, This is not my first visit to ur nice blog, but this is the first time i comment. Why? Because this template u r using is not reader friendly. Change the theme and I am sure your blog will be even more popular. People really like to hear from a German Cricket Fan! Cheers!

Masuud said...

Liked his views on importance of ODIs. Also 'Ireland got the better of Pakistan'. Haha!

p.s. Being the captain of a national side, needs to upgrade from GM Purist Pro though ;)

Wes playforcountrynotforself said...

Cheers and thanks for your feedback Dasun, I'm gonna upgrade the template as soon as possible.

Masuudolo thanks for reading the whole interview. Yeah I had to look this one up to be honest because the victory against Pak took place before my time. What a nice surprise :D

vasique Ahmed said...

this is good and deals with some serious issues with regard to german cricket....the whole thing is written in a good way...

vasique Ahmed said...

nice piece...deals with some serious issues with regard to growth of cricket...all the very best