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Jonathan Trott: If you could amalgamate Gurbaz and Zadran, you’d have something close to Virat Kohli

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott has lavished praise on his side’s opening pair, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, saying they “can be as good as they want to be, in all three formats” in the new issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly.

Afghanistan recorded an above-expectations sixth-placed finish, with memorable victories over England, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, and threatened to blow the semi-final race wide open by beating Australia before Glenn Maxwell’s epic double century sealed a comeback win. Before 2023, they had won just one World Cup game, against Scotland in 2015. Zadran and Gurbaz sparkled at the tournament: Zadran made a memorable century against Australia, Afghanistan’s first in a World Cup, while Gurbaz blitzed 80 to set up victory over England, the 2019 champions.

Over the past few years, the duo have established themselves as their country’s great batting hopes. Zadran is five days shy of his 22nd birthday, while Gurbaz turned 22 nine days ago. Each made five ODI hundreds before turning 22, a marker bettered only by Quinton de Kock and Upul Tharanga. The pair have contrasting styles, with Gurbaz scoring more quickly than Zadran and Zadran the more consistent of the two, and Trott suggested that a combination of the two could be unstoppable.


“Similar ages but very different characters,” he said in the new issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly, out today (December 12). “Similar in talent as well, but different types of talent. Ibrahim is very studious, very quiet, very methodical and professional; a great athlete who works hard at his game and thinks a lot about it. Gurbaz is one of the most talented young players I’ve ever seen and I feel there’s a lot more to come. With him, I don’t think it’s a technical thing, it’s case of method really. If you could amalgamate the two, you’d have something close to Virat Kohli, a real monster on your hands.”

Neither has yet fully cracked T20I cricket, and Gurbaz is yet to make his Test debut, but Trott backed both to be successful in all types of cricket: “Those two can be as good as they want to be, in all three formats.”

Trott took over as Afghanistan coach in July 2022, and is credited with helping the side become more consistent.

“When I spoke to people after I took over, it was always we bat first and then it’s over to our spinners to win us the game,” he said. “And I was a bit uncomfortable with that. In certain conditions our spinners might actually be more effective if we bowl first and we needed to be able to chase scores, to have the mentality and self-belief that we could do it. We’re becoming a more all-round side, I would say.”

Read the full interview with Jonathan Trott in the new Wisden Cricket Monthly, out now.

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