A top Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) official said that the Taliban has given the green light to the team’s tour of Australia this year — marking a big shift from the group’s previous regime when they had banned all kinds of entertainment and sporting events.
Hamid Shinwari, the chief executive of ACB said: “We have got approval to send the team to Australia.”
Mr Shinwari was quoted by the Indian Express as saying that there is also the possibility of the Afghanistan cricket team visiting India for a Test series next year.
The ACB executive added: “The Taliban government has been supporting cricket and all our cricket will be held as per schedule.” He said that a spokesperson of the Taliban Cultural Commission communicated with ACB and told them that the Taliban will be supporting the Test match against Australia followed by a Test series against India in the first quarter of 2022.
Previously, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan had used sports stadiums as venues for carrying out executions.
Mr Shinwari said: “It’s a clear message to the youth that they will support sports. That is the best sign.”
However, when he was asked about the future of the women’s cricket team under the Taliban regime, he responded saying: “We don’t know at the moment. The government will decide on it.”
Afghanistan’s men’s cricket team was formed in 2001 soon after the ouster of the Taliban. Later, the team was granted full-member Test status by the International Cricket Council in 2017.
Meanwhile, the Test match between Afghanistan and Australia — to be played in Hobart from 27 November to 1 December — was scheduled for last year but was cancelled then due to the pandemic and international travel restrictions.
The Afghan team will also feature in the Twenty20 World Cup, to be held in the United Arab Emirates from 17 October to 15 November.
Mr Shinwari also confirmed Afghanistan’s Under-19 cricket team will tour Bangladesh for a bi-lateral later this month.
The Afghanistan cricketers have been unable to focus on the sport amid the chaos that has enveloped the country since the fall of the Afghan government.
“The fear is there in their eyes, in their voices, even in their messages,” bowler Naveen-ul-Haq was quoted saying when asked about his teammates during a BBC radio interview recently.
“The Taliban have said [they] won’t be troubling any sportsman, but nobody knows,” he had mentioned.
Former national captain, Mohammad Nabi had tweeted just days before the fall of Kabul: “I appeal to the leaders of the world; please don’t let Afghanistan go into chaos.”