English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Taliban allows Afghanistan men’s cricket team to tour Australia, but future of women’s team still in doubt

The Afghanistan men’s side is scheduled to play a Test match in Australia at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena this summer

The Taliban has given the Afghanistan men’s team the permission to play in the Test match against Australia, but the future of the country’s female cricketers appears to be in doubt.

The Afghanistan men’s side is scheduled to play a Test match in Australia at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena this summer, commencing on Saturday, September 27.

"We have got approval to send the team to Australia," chief executive of the Afghanistan Cricket Board Hamid Shinwari told AFP.

During the first Taliban regime from 1996-2001 many sports had been banned and stadiums had been transformed into public execution venues.

Also read:  Northern Alliance claims 350 Taliban fighters killed, 40 taken hostage in Panjshir battle

The hardline Islamists do not mind cricket, however, and the game is reported to be quite popular among many of their cadre as well.

They have also promised to enforce a less strict version of Islamic law this time, after seizing the capital Kabul last month.

The Test match, to be played in Hobart from November 27-December 1, was scheduled for last year but was put off due to the Covid-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions.

Before the Australia tour, the Afghanistan team will feature in the Twenty20 World Cup, to be held in the United Arab Emirates from October 17-November 15.

Shinwari also confirmed Afghanistan's Under-19 cricket team will tour Bangladesh for a bi-lateral later this month.

Although the men’s side has been granted permission to travel overseas, Afghanistan’s 25 contracted female cricketers are still trapped in the country.

ACB chief executive Hamid Shinwari believes the Taliban will not allow female athletes to compete in international or domestic tournaments.

“I think it will be stopped, that is my assumption,” he told the BBC.

“I really don’t know what will be the position in the future.

“We have kept the salaries and they are on our payroll. If the government decides that we don’t go with the national women’s team, we will have to stop.”

According to The Age, the Afghanistan Cricket Board will continue paying its 25 contracted players, but uncertainty surrounds the wider future of the women’s program, which was restarted in 2020 as part of a commitment to the ICC.

Should the women’s program be discontinued, the ICC’s board would be forced into considering whether to withdraw Afghanistan’s status as a full member.

Afghanistan’s female football players were advised to burn any photographs, trophies or memorabilia after receiving death threats as the Taliban took over.

“In the future, we want good relations with all countries,” Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, told SBS Pashto on Tuesday.

“When good relations are established, Afghan players can go (to Australia) and they can come here.”

Wasiq also said it was important those taking part dress according to Islamic law.