KABUL (Pajhwok): Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Hamid Shinwari has said Cricket Australia (CA) announcement regarding the potential cancelation of test match was shocking.
“It was with shock and immense disappointment that the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) received the sudden and unexpected news from Cricket Australia of the potential cancellation of the Australia–Afghanistan Cricket Test Match scheduled for 27 November 2021. We believe there is an alternative to cancelling this significant, history making, test match.”
“We accept that Cricket Australia (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.”
“Our country has experienced 40 years of war and violence since Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1979. 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 it 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.
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 International Cricket Council (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.
“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.
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.