Afghanistan will understand rigors of Test cricket on June 14: Phil Simmons

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Dehradun: Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons says no amount of training can make his players fully ready for their inaugural Test against India and they will find out how tough five-day cricket is only after taking the field in Bengaluru on June 14.

It is not the best preparation for the Afghans ahead of the historic Test but Simmons is working hard with the two squads simultaneously — one that takes on Bangladesh in a three match T20 series starting on Sunday and the other which will face a formidable India in the one-off game in Bengaluru.

“It has been difficult with the T20 and Test squads training at the same time. But it is getting a bit easier as we are coming up to the game. That is how tours are planned now. You usually have Test matches first and then limited over series or vice versa.

“We just have to work around that,” said Simmons who has been overseeing joint preparations at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium for close to weeks.

The team was earlier training in Greater Noida before moving to its second ‘home ground’ here ahead of the Bangladesh series. Going into the all-important game against India, the team has not even played a competitive practice game as it is busy with the upcoming T20s.

“You are definitely right at that (about lack of warm-up games ahead of Test). Especially playing the best team in the world (India) but that is how it is. I am not going to worry about. Though we did have a three day practice match here,” said the former West Indies all-rounder.

Afghanistan have gradually improved in every format they have played, including four-day cricket. However, the fact that they have not got a taste of Test cricket makes the job all the more challenging.

“The good thing is that they have played four-day cricket (winning ICC Inter-Continental Cup twice). But it still doesn’t tell them how tough Test cricket is. I don’t think that is something I can teach them. That is something they have to understand when they play.

“We have just tried to make sure that they understand that Test cricket is twice as difficult. After the first Test match, they will know this level is so much higher and what they need to do to get to that level.”

The 55-year-old said the players are still going about their business and are not showing emotions on playing their first-ever Test.

“The reaction is still not there. It still has not sunk in yet. Emotion will hit them when they get to Bangalore. But I think they can handle the nerves. We have seen in last five six years that they have stepped up in every format that they have played,” Simmons said.

Simmons said the players will have to become mentally much tougher to succeed in Test cricket.

“The biggest challenge is to make them understand what Test cricket is all about. It is different to four-day cricket in a massive way. It is about getting them to understand the mindset around Test cricket, the patience, how hard it is to score runs.

“With them it is a little bit technical and a lot more mental. Because you got to have played to understand how mentally tough it is to play for five days,” he said.

“All we can try is to make sure their technique is as tight as possible. It will be much tougher for the batsmen than the bowlers who do get a second chance after being hit for a boundary.”

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