Did you know that the Taliban is crazy about cricket? Sounds weird for a hardliner group. But, the fact is – they are! In fact, according to the latest news about cricket seeping out of the forlorn war-torn country, the brand-new Taliban Government has assured the Afghanistan Cricket Board that they will be supporting and encouraging cricket in the times to come.
After taking over the country, the general perception was that the new Government would curtail or even abandon all sporting activities across Afghanistan.
How Did This Happen?
According to the latest news about Cricket report (source: TOI), the Taliban Political Office met with senior National cricketers along with the Afghan Cricket Board representatives and assured them of complete unconditional support for the game. Anas Haqqani, a senior member of the Political Office, reassured the players and the Board that pending issues would be dealt with immediately.
In return, the players also thanked Haqqani and his delegation. They expressed their hopes and aspirations of continuing to support and develop Cricket in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
In fact, another member of the Taliban Political Committee, Sohail Shaheen, also had declared full support to the National Team. He expressed his hopes of watching the Afghanistan vs. Pakistan match.
This declaration of support becomes crucial at this stage, as Afghanistan is scheduled to play against Pakistan in a 3-match ODI series in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 1st to 5th September.
Cricket History in Afghanistan
Cricket originally was played by Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. As a matter of fact, even the National Cricket Board was formed in Pakistan in 1995!! After returning to Afghanistan, these refugees started playing there, and that’s how cricket quickly caught on.
Since the 19th-century cricket has been played here, but it is only towards the end of the 1990s, and especially from the beginning of the 2000s, that the National Cricket Team began to taste success. Afghanistan Cricket Board, initially, the ACB was granted Affiliate Membership of the ICC in 2001, but after a decade of playing cricket, the country was granted full membership on 22nd June 2017.
According to the news about cricket Afghanistan won their first-ever tournament in 200when they tied the ACC T20 Cup with Oman as the two sides tied scores in the Final.
Today, the game is played across the nation (especially in Taliban-controlled areas!) In fact, Jalalabad, the original Taliban stronghold, is commonly called the “Home of Afghan Cricket.”
The country is now well on the road to cricket prosperity. Players like Rashid Khan and Mohammed Nabi have become global superstars, highly coveted by international cricket franchises.
If cricket flourishes in Afghanistan, as stated by the Taliban, it will be a stupendous achievement for a country torn by war but united by cricket.