Since the evacuation of the NATO and the US forces from Afghanistan post the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August, there have been fears that cricket and other sports would be considerably impacted. However, the Afghanistan cricket players and cricket lovers around the globe can heave a sigh of relief with the announcement from the Taliban that they will support Afghanistan cricket, its players and take all measures to address and remediate the concerns of the Afghanistan cricketers.
Taliban’s Promise to Support Afghanistan Cricket
There were several concerns from the Afghanistan cricketing fraternity about the future of the game in Afghanistan and its progress amidst the political turmoil in the country. Nonetheless, they were put to rest after the assurance from the Taliban members that they would lend their complete support to Afghanistan cricket and its players going forward. Anas Haqqani, a member of the Taliban political office and negotiating team, broadcasted this message during their recent meeting in August with the national cricket team members. The Talibans claimed that they have supported Afghanistan during their previous rule over the country and they will pursue it during this regime as well.
The meeting was attended by the former cricket board selection committee chairman Asadullah, Noor Ali Zadran and Afghanistan cricket team captain, Hashmatullah Shahidi. During talks, Haqqani affirmed support to the cricketing sector and promised to assess and immediately remediate the problems faced by Afghanistan cricketers. This positive announcement from the Taliban members was received well by the national team players and they thanked Anas Haqqani and his delegation for their encouragement and expressed their hope for continued support from them.
This pledge of support comes close on the heels of after Sohail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban political team too declared his support for the Afghanistan cricket team and how he was looking forward to watching the scheduled Afghanistan vs. Pakistan matches. There was another meeting between the former Afghanistan cricket captain, Asghar Stanikzai and Naworoz Mangal, a national team member in Kabul earlier in the month.
Upcoming Cricket Tournaments for Afghanistan
Following their support, the Taliban government has given a nod for the test match in Australia, which is the first one to be held after they came into power. Hamid Shinwari, the CEO of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, confirmed this permission was secured by the cricket administration from the ruling government.
This approval for cricket tournaments comes as a welcome surprise after the previous Taliban stint between 1996-2001 when the Taliban banned all forms of entertainment in Afghanistan. The said test match is likely to take place in Hobart between 27th November and 2nd December 2021.
Afghanistan is also hoping to participate in the ICC T-20 World Cup scheduled to be held later this year.
The last 2-3 years have been good for Afghanistan cricket and they have secured a place in the international cricket arena. The promising spinner Rashid Khan’s performance has largely contributed to the team’s popularity and currently, Khan is among the foremost bowlers in world cricket. Afghanistan secured its Test status in 2017 and played its first match in India in 2018. With the declaration of support from Taliban to Afghanistan cricket, the players and their fans worldwide are looking forward to some memorable matches and action-packed performances in the near future.