After 20 years of war, the Taliban when swept to victory in Afghanistan mid-last year following a stunning 10-day rapid advance across the country, the public and the world were left with questions on and around the governance model with women, human rights, and political freedoms under the spotlight.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) keenly followed the developments and when the Taliban reportedly sounded against their women playing the sport, an ICC spokesman had then said, “This and the impact it will have on the continued development of the game will be discussed by the ICC Board at its next meeting.”
A month later, in November 2021, ICC Chief Executive, Geoff Allardice, said, “They have said to us that women’s cricket is continuing. They certainly haven’t given us an indication that it has stopped. Time will tell, in terms of how that plays out. Yes, we have been in regular communication with them from the time things changed in their country.”
Latest on the same sees, the ICC-set Working Group consisting of Ross McCollum (Ireland chair), Ramiz Raja (Pakistan chair), and Lawson Naidoo (South Africa chair) has now been notified with a positive update from the Afghanistan government and the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) during their meeting in Doha.
Working Group Chair, Imran Khwaja, said, “The meeting was positive and respectful and the government representative was clear in his support for the ICC constitution including “in principle” for women’s cricket in Afghanistan.
“There are obviously challenges for it to resume but we will continue to work with the ACB to take this forward. The Working Group will closely monitor the commitment undertaken by the Afghanistan government and will continue to report back to the ICC Board.”
Afghanistan is one of the full members of the ICC and it is an ICC requirement for full members to also have a national women’s team, besides the men’s side. While Afghanistan’s men’s team were most recently seen during the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia, their women’s team hasn’t been in action since the Taliban takeover with a few even having fled the country.
In November 2020, the ACB awarded central contracts to as many as 25 of its female players in their bid to form a national team to take part in ICC tournaments. In October 2020, ACB organised a skills and fitness camp as well as the national team trial camp at the Alokozay Kabul International Cricket Ground for the players who were selected from the talent pool.
In April 2021, the ICC awarded permanent Test and One Day International (ODI) status to all full-member women’s teams, but the Afghanistan women’s team shortly after found themselves in a sad state of affairs following a massive move out of players and locals. On a positive note, as of now, signs look promising indicating towards the resumption of women’s cricket in Afghanistan being just around the corner.
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