International Cricket Council (ICC) also has an eye on the Taliban matter as the world watches the situation in Afghanistan unfold as armed militants have forcefully taken over the country and entered the capital Kabul. The ICC office in Dubai is in constant touch with the members of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) in Kabul to “fully understand the impact of changes” happening in the country.
One of the biggest challenges in front of ACB could be the sustenance of women’s cricket in the country — something which has gone from strength to strength in recent times. In 2020, 25 female players were awarded central contracts for the first time, thus clearing the deck for the formation of a national women’s team. Skill-based camps were organized to further the efforts.
International Cricket Council (ICC) Is In Constant Touch With Afghanistan Cricket Board As Situations Worsen In Afghanistan For Taliban’ Forceful Takeover
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is apprised of the developments in Afghanistan — where the Taliban’s sudden and forceful takeover has sent the country into chaos and misery — and is in touch with the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), monitoring the developments in Kabul.
“That was a massive development. We don’t know what now,” said a source in ICC women’s cricket.
ACB acknowledges that being a full member of the ICC, it is “required to have a national women’s team of its own” but there’s a lot of uncertainty around what will come of their efforts in the time to come.
“I have not heard from the ICC on what is happening as far as women’s cricket in Afghanistan,” said Lisa Sthalekar, a member of ICC Women’s Cricket Committee, “but personally I am concerned about what is happening there.”
Despite the cataclysmic geopolitical changes, the country’s cricket community is hopeful of the game’s future.
“Cricket in Afghanistan began from refugee camps and we have come a long way. With very limited resources, we climbed our way up to full membership,” Shafiqullah Stanikzai, former CEO of ACB under whom Afghanistan had attained full membership of the ICC in 2017, told Cricbuzz.
“I hope and pray that cricket in Afghanistan continues to grow. For us, it is beyond a sport, a game. Cricket has given us an identity making the image of Afghans around the world optimistic. Through cricket, we convinced the global community to invest in our talent and in Afghan youth. I hope this continues.”
It was earlier reported that changes are in motion at the top of the hierarchy in cricket too, with Azizullah Fazli set to replace current board chairman Farhan Yousefzai, who is understood to be out of the country.
Afghanistan Focusing On The Pakistan Series: ACB Spokesperson
But a forced change in a board’s administration could attract the attention of the apex board ICC which wants all its boards to be autonomous and free of government interference.
“For the moment we are focusing on the Pakistan series. We are confident it will happen. If it does not, due to reasons not relevant to us, we could advance the dates of Shpageeza Cricket League (the domestic league),” ACB spokesperson Hikmat Hasan said.
“The squad (for the Pakistan series) is already out. The coaches trained the players in Kabul for one month. We are well prepared for the matches in Sri Lanka and the Twenty20 World Cup in UAE. Our head coach Lance Klusener was in Kabul till Eid. We have recruited Shaun Tait as bowling coach and he will be joining the squad in Sri Lanka,” Hikmat further added.
Cricket will not be a casualty in the wake of drastic political change in Afghanistan, assured country’s cricket board CEO Hamid Shinwari, saying the Taliban “love” and “support” the game.
Speaking from Kabul, Hamid Shinwari also assured that the members of the national team and their families are safe as the Taliban took over the reins of the country. Star players including Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, and Mujeeb Ur Rahman are playing in the UK in the ‘Hundred’ tournament.
Cricket’s rise in the country coincided with the Taliban’s rule between 1996 and 2001 with many Afghan refugees in neighbouring Pakistan picking up the sport.
Afghanistan Cricket has made 8 changes to their ODI squad ahead of the ODI series against Pakistan in September 2021. The new players are Sediq Atal, Shahidullah Kamal, Noor Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, and Abdul Rahman in a 17-member squad while Ibrahim Zadran, Karim Janat, and Ikram Alikhal are making their comeback.
The likes of Asghar Afghan, Gulbadin Naib, Javed Ahmadi, Usman Ghani, Yamin Ahmadzai, and Sayed Shirzad have been dropped.
Afghanistan squad: Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Sediq Atal, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najib Zadran, Ikram Alikhal, Shahid Kamal, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Janat, Azmat Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Abdul Rahman, Naveen Ul Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi and Noor Ahmad