There’s a big old elephant in the cricket hall – it’s called Afghanistan.
- There are calls for the ICC to take action on Afghanistan
- Afghanistan Cricket Board says it doesn’t expect female participants to be affected by Taliban rule
- Australia set to postpone next test against Afghanistan in Hobart
It is quite difficult to avoid seeing the elephant, given that it wears the Taliban badge.
But some manage to avoid eye contact with the pachyderm in the corner – the International Cricket Council (ICC), for example.
It has been well documented that the Taliban have said that women and girls will not play cricket under its rule.
This means that Afghanistan should no longer be a member of the ICC according to that organization’s own rules.
And this is the position that Cricket Australia (CA) appeared to be reaching, as general manager Nick Hockley said it was “very likely” that the single test between Australia and Afghanistan – scheduled for Hobart end of November – would be postponed.
“We want to see cricket thrive in Afghanistan, and we want to see women’s and men’s cricket thrive in Afghanistan,” Hockley said last week.
“What we are trying to do is establish all the facts on the ground and we are also working closely with the Australian government.
“We are in regular contact with the Afghanistan Cricket Board.”
The situation of the 25 women who signed national contracts with the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) remains unclear, although SBS reported that two of the women fled the country for Canada shortly after the Taliban takeover.
But ACB President Azizullah Fazli recently said all systems were fine when it came to women’s cricket in Afghanistan.
“We have spoken to the most senior officials of the Taliban government and their position is that there is officially no ban on women’s sport, especially women’s cricket,” he told Al Jazeera.
“They have no problem with women playing sports. We weren’t asked to stop women from playing cricket.
“But what we have to keep in mind is our religion and our culture. If women adhere to this, it is okay for them to participate in sports.”
Obtaining information on the fate and well-being of female Afghan players is exceptionally difficult.
In the meantime, the Afghanistan men’s team are set to play their first game of the T20 World Cup, which is currently taking place in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
The team is ranked in the top eight in the ICC Men’s T20 rankings and features players of exceptional skill, such as leg spinner Rashid Khan, who is well known to Australians thanks to his performances in the Big Bash League.
There remains the awkward possibility that Australia and Afghanistan will meet in the tournament as CA leans not to play the team in a test match.
But this prospect is an external chance, given that the two teams are drawn in separate pools. They are expected to meet in the semi-finals or the final, which is unlikely due to the form.
ICC “waits to see how things unfold”
Why are Afghanistan playing – given ICC rules – when so much is unknown about the status of the country’s women’s team?
Hockley said it was a matter for the ICC, which kicks the way when it comes to Afghanistan.
He is not expected to meet until the end of the T20 Men’s World Cup, most likely after Afghanistan is no longer in the tournament.
“We have always said that we are waiting to see how things unfold under a different regime in this country,” ICC Acting Director General Geoff Allardice said recently.
But there are those in the cricket community who demand more from the ICC.
Australian Men’s Test captain Tim Paine is one of them.
“If teams pull out of playing against them and governments don’t let them travel to our shores, how a team like this can be allowed to play in an ICC sanctioned event is going to be very difficult,” Paine told SEN the last time. month.
Others use even harsher language and demand action, such as Federation of International Cricket Associations (FICA) CEO Tom Moffat.
FICA is the umbrella body for all cricketers’ unions, including the Australian Cricketers Association.
“Any situation where women are denied their rights is unacceptable and although the situation in Afghanistan is more serious than cricket, as far as the people of our sport are affected, cricket must act,” Moffat told the ‘ABC.
“The ICC currently lacks a framework to address this issue beyond treating it as a ‘membership issue’. This approach is particularly problematic when we know that the affected member may be part of the systemic denial of their human rights.
And although there has been a call from some quarters to boycott Afghanistan, this is not the first step according to Moffat.
“Before focusing on sanctions or non-participation in events, the ICC must commit to protecting the rights of individuals – not just its members – and to working with relevant stakeholders – including players – and their representatives to this end, ”he said.
“The outcome in this case may end up involving sporting or economic sanctions, but the process to get there is important.”
Retired Australian male test captain Ian Chappell tries to raise money to support refugees in Afghanistan.
He’s an activist who doesn’t think sports sanctions will help.
“I do not have any problems [with Afghanistan playing in the men’s T20 World Cup]”said Chappell.
Chappell does not place much importance on the assurances the ACB provided to the ICC.
“Obviously you are not going to believe what the Taliban are saying too much,” Chappell said.
As for Australian players, they don’t spend time thinking about Afghanistan’s place in world cricket, according to star batsman Glenn Maxwell.
Maxwell said he had “not thought about it” when asked about Afghanistan’s participation in the T20 Men’s World Cup.
“There was no discussion in the whole group,” said Maxwell.
ABC Sport has asked Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Sports Minister Richard Colbeck what advice the government has given CA, but has yet to receive a response.