ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021
Afghanistan say World Cup appearance not in doubt
Afghanistan cricket officials says upcoming series against Pakistan in Sri Lanka will proceed as planned
21 August 2021, 07:15 AM AEST
Afghanistan's T20 World Cup appearance will go ahead as planned with the Taliban's support, says a local cricket board official.
The fate of the women's cricket program, however, remains unclear.
Despite the turmoil caused by the fall of the government on Sunday, the board has confirmed a one-day series against Pakistan will go ahead in Sri Lanka next month and said it is expanding the "Shpageeza" Twenty20 league competition.
"The Taliban don't have any issue or problem with cricket, and they have told us that we can continue our work as planned," said Afghanistan Cricket Board head of media operations Hikmat Hassan, adding the team was ready for three one-day matches against Pakistan next month.
"We have completed our two training camps in Kabul and we have sponsors, a production team and even the kit ready."
Hassan also said the team should be able to play in the Twenty20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in October-November.
"We are confident we will be able to take part and will be preparing for it over the coming weeks. I don't think there will be a problem," Hassan said.
Afghanistan are also scheduled to play a one-off Test against Australia in Hobart in November.
Speaking on Friday, star spinner Rashid Khan 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 Adelaide Strikers spin bowler Rashid Khan 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, added two more franchises on Thursday 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.