Cricket Australia have revealed they will cancel the men’s Test match against Afghanistan if the women’s team is banned by the Taliban.
The International Cricket Council expressed concerns earlier this week, after Taliban cultural commission deputy head, Ahmadullah Wasiq told Australian broadcaster SBS News that women’s sport was considered unnecessary and inappropriate.
Wasiq also made specific references to cricket –– stressing that situations may arise when players faces and bodies are not covered, which the religion does not allow.
“I don’t think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket,” he said.
“In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this.
“It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it. Islam and the Islamic Emirate [Afghanistan] do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed.”
While the men’s cricket team has received support from the Taliban, ICC rules dictate that all 12 full members must have a national women’s team if they wish to take part in Test matches.
The ICC have themselves released a statement, emphasising the organisation: “is committed to the long-term growth of women’s cricket and despite the cultural and religious challenges in Afghanistan, steady progress had been made in this area since Afghanistan’s admission as a full member in 2017.
“The ICC has been monitoring the changing situation in Afghanistan and is concerned to note recent media reports that women will no longer be allowed to play cricket.
“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.”
And now, Cricket Australia have also spoken out, saying they “support the game unequivocally” for women at all levels.
They added, “if recent media reports that women’s cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated, Cricket Australia would have no alternative but to not host Afghanistan for the proposed test match due to be played in Hobart.”
Since reclaiming power in Afghanistan, the Taliban had promised a more inclusive government compared to the brutal regime which ruled from 1996 to 2001. However, all top positions were given to key leaders from within the movement, suggesting things are likely to be similar to before.
Given girls were not allowed to attend schools two decades ago and women were banned from work and education, the future of the Afghanistan women’s cricket team is in serious jeopardy.