Ever since the Taliban’s resurgence and eventual take over of Kabul, which happened on August 15, Afghanistan has been in turmoil. The world was left stunned after thousands of people crowded Kabul airport in hopes of being airlifted from the country, while the women of the country have expressed fear of the Taliban considering how they were brutally suppressed during their previous reign.
Amidst all the chaos, the Taliban have given their take on the future of Afghanistan cricket and its players. They have made it clear that they will not interfere with the Afghan men’s national cricket team. However, the fate of modest women’s cricket programs remains unclear.
On Sunday, Afghanistan’s cricket board confirmed a one-day series against Pakistan, which will go ahead in Sri Lanka next month, and said they are expanding the ‘Shpageeza’ Twenty20 league competition. Afghanistan Cricket Board head of media operations Hikmat Hassan said:
“The Taliban don`t have any issue or problem with cricket, and they have told us that we can continue our work as planned,”
“We have completed our two training camps in Kabul and we have sponsors, a production team, and even the kit ready.”
Hasan also claimed that the team should be able to play in the upcoming T20 World Cup, which will take place in October-November in the UAE. He said:
“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,”
For the unversed, during their previous reigns, the Taliban banned most of the public entertainment sources but they never had a problem with cricket as many Afghans played this sport in refugee camps in Pakistan during the 1980s and 1990s. Ever since then, the game has exploded in popularity in Afghanistan and became an integral part of the sports culture of the country.
Hasan claimed that going by the ongoing conditions, cricket will bring happiness and unite the people of their country. He 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,”
Meanwhile, the future of women in sports programs still remains unclear. Though the Taliban have said that they will respect the rights of women but under Sharia Law, however, they haven’t given any indication of how they will treat the women participating in sports. In their previous reign, they stopped most women and girls from working or going to school and made them wear all-covering burqas to go out and that too only when they were accompanied by a male relative.