Don't penalise us for our cultural and religious environment, Afghanistan Cricket Board tells CA | Cricket News
MUMBAI: A day after Cricket Australia (CA) said that it will scrap a planned Test match against the Afghanistan men’s team in November in Hobart if the Taliban rulers do not allow women to play the sport, the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has expressed “shock and disappointment” at CA’s statement, and urged “CA and the whole cricketing world to keep the door open for us, walk with us, do not isolate us and avoid penalising us for our cultural and religious environment.”
In a detailed statement on the issue to TOI, ACB CEO Hamid Shinwari said: “It was with shock and immense disappointment that the ACB received the sudden and unexpected news from CA of the potential cancellation of the Australia–Afghanistan Test scheduled from 27 November 2021. We believe there is an alternative to cancelling this significant, history-making Test match. We accept that CA sees cricket as ‘a sport for all and we support the game unequivocally for women at every level’. We understand, too, why ‘if recent media reports that women’s cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated’, CA might believe they have ‘no alternative’ but to refuse to host the scheduled Test match. We believe, however, that there is an alternative.”
Shninwari has cited the examples of other south Asian countries where the growth of women’s cricket has been slow in the past. “This has included numerous changes in the governance of our country and approaches to both our traditional cultures and our Islamic faith. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as of August 2021 is our new government and has appointed an interim cabinet. The whole country is in flux and transition while the new government sets its policies and priorities.
The development of women’s cricket has been slow in Afghanistan, just as it was for other more traditional cultures: India in the 1970s; in Pakistan in the 1990s when women’s cricket was at first declared illegal and players had death threats; in Sri Lanka in the late 1990s; and in Bangladesh not until the early 2000s,” he said.
Shinwari pointed out that in view of Afghanistan’s “cultural and religious environment,” the International Cricket Council (ICC) had taken a “balanced, diplomatic, sensitive and considerate approach” towards Afghanistan cricket.
“Nonetheless, there has been a quiet but significant development of women’s cricket over the past 10 years in girls-only schools where cricket is an integral part of the health education process. Since the ACB joined the ICC and through our fast growth through affiliate, associate and to full membership, the ICC has been aware of our cultural and religious environment. It has taken a balanced, diplomatic, sensitive and considerate approach as we have worked to develop every aspect of the game of cricket in our country despite the situations we have faced,” said Shinwari in the statement.
He urged CA to take a similar view of Afghanistan cricket as the ICC. “We believe that the ICC has had the forethought to recognise and accept that we have been doing all we can to grow cricket in the traditional cultural, religious and changing political environments of our country. The alternative to cancellation of the Test match would be for CA to take the same approach as the ICC. A considered, balanced, ‘cricket diplomacy’ would be far more productive for Afghanistan and for cricket than a sudden ‘knee jerk’ reaction.”
He pointed out that the previous governments in Afghanistan too had views about women’s cricket as the comments made by a spokesperson of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan about not allowing women to play cricket in Afghanistan.
“CA need to know that the comments of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan spokesperson regarding women’s participation in cricket are not substantially different to the ACB’s cultural and religious environment during the Karzai and Ghani governments over the last 20 years. We believe that the ICC is fully aware of this, although it seems CA is not,” said Shinwari.
He made it clear that the ACB couldn’t do much to change the “culture and religious environment of Afghanistan,” and expressed concern that “if other countries’ cricket administrators follow CA, then Afghan cricket will be alienated from the cricket world, the development of cricket in our country will be stalled and, even more concerning, cricket may cease to exist in Afghanistan.”
“The ACB is powerless to change the culture and religious environment of Afghanistan. If the CA decides to cancel the test match and isolate the Afghan men’s national team, it will have no impact upon those cultural and religious values as they stand. The spokesman for the government has unequivocally stated this. We are concerned that, if other countries’ cricket administrators follow CA, then Afghan cricket will be alienated from the cricket world, the development of cricket in our country will be stalled and, even more concerning, cricket may cease to exist in Afghanistan,” he said.
He said if CA’s decision to cancel the Test would impact “millions of young people in Afghanistan, who see the national team as their cricket heroes.”
“Afghanistan’s population, estimated to be almost 40 million people, is one of the fastest growing young populations in the world – with approximately 63 percent of the population (27.5 million people) below 25 years of age. These young people see the national cricket team as heroes. The national players unite our country and build peace and pride. It is these millions of young people who will be most impacted by the cancellation of the Test match and its potential consequences,” he said.
He concluded his statement by saying that “agreeing to host the Test match would be a treasured gift to the people of Afghanistan by CA.” “It will build relationships rather than close minds. We ask CA and the whole cricketing world to keep the door open for us, walk with us, do not isolate us and avoid penalising us for our cultural and religious environment,” he urged.

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