Vodafone Test v Afghanistan
CA confident Afghanistan Test will proceed as planned
The cricket boards of Australia and Afghanistan are preparing for the one-off Test to go to schedule, despite the Taliban's takeover of the Asian nation
Reuters and cricket.com.au
31 August 2021, 06:56 PM AEST
Cricket Australia remains confident that Afghanistan’s historic Test match against Australia this summer will go ahead as planned as SBS News reported the Taliban have given the tour the green light.
The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan earlier this month has thrown uncertainty over the future of cricket in the country, although a local cricket board official said 10 days ago that their participation in this year’s T20 World Cup is not in doubt.
On Tuesday, SBS News quoted Ahmadullah Wasiq, the deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, as saying that all scheduled matches for the national men’s team “will continue without interruption, and (the Afghan team) can play with other international teams”.
"In the future, we want good relations with all countries,” he said.
“When good relations are established, Afghan players can go (to Australia) and they can come here.”
A Cricket Australia spokesperson said: “Cricket Australia’s planning for the historic first Test match between Australia and Afghanistan in Hobart is well underway.
“There is goodwill between CA and the Afghanistan Cricket Board to make the match happen, which immediately follows the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE in which the Afghanistan team is due to play," the spokesperson added.
Last week, Afghanistan’s proposed series against Pakistan in Sri Lanka was postponed due to travel complications, with no commercial flights currently coming in or out of Kabul’s international airport.
Before that campaign was called off, Afghanistan Cricket Board’s head of media operations, Hikmat Hassan, told Reuters that the Taliban had shown no indication that the national team will be impacted by the political upheaval.
"The Taliban don't have any issue or problem with cricket, and they have told us that we can continue our work as planned," he said.
"We are confident we will be able to take part (in the World Cup) and will be preparing for it over the coming weeks. I don't think there will be a problem.”
Star spinner Rashid Khan had also said there'd been no indication that the change of regime would have a negative impact on the national men's side.
"Cricket won't be affected that much," he told SEN.
"Everyone back home loves cricket, they love sport and they keep supporting their players and that is something which is very good to see.
"We have seen some of the (Taliban) interviews from the past few days and they talked about sports and (said) 'we don’t have any issue, we love the players and we want to see them compete all around the world in different countries'.
"We love to see that. We don't have any problems at the moment."
Many Afghans learned to play cricket in refugee camps in Pakistan during the 1980s and 1990s and the game has since exploded in popularity.
Players such as Rashid and big-hitting Melbourne Renegades batsman Mohammad Nabi have become global stars of the game, lighting up Twenty20 internationals and other showpiece competitions like the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Afghanistan's own domestic version of the IPL, the "Shpageeza Cricket League" (SCL), a competition named after the Pashto word for a six, recently added two more franchises and will be played between September 10-25, the board said.
"Given the current problems in Afghanistan, it is an opportunity to bring the country together, bring some joy to the people and put on a remarkable spectacle," Hassan said.
He said the board hoped stars like Rashid, one of the world's top rated Twenty20 bowlers, would come home to play in the competition, just ahead of the World Cup.
One area that remains uncertain is the future of the women's cricket programs run by the ACB, which currently has 25 contracted female cricketers and several programs for girls.
The Taliban have said they will respect women's rights under Islamic law, but they have not given any clear indication of how they will treat women's sports.