Friday, March 1, 2024

ICC to discuss Afghanistan full member status

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One of Afghanistan’s cricketers is in England, two live in Canada with others residing in Australia

Cricket chiefs will discuss Afghanistan’s international status next week amid the ongoing exile of the women’s team.

Afghanistan women’s side fled to Pakistan 20 months ago after the Taliban’s takeover, before most were granted emergency visas to Australia.

As a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), Afghanistan should have a women’s side in place.

The ICC board meeting is taking place in Dubai on Monday.

Members of the Afghanistan women’s team say they have still had no contact from the sport’s leaders, despite previous appeals for support.

They wrote to the ICC in December but the global governing body have said it is an issue for the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB).

“I don’t understand why they don’t want to speak to us, it’s our right to know about our team’s future,” 18-year-old player Firooza Afghan told the BBC Stumped podcast.

The players are hoping the ICC will take action to enable them to represent Afghanistan from their base in Australia.

“For the first time it’s possible they will make a fair decision for us because it’s our right to play for our country,” added Afghan.

“It doesn’t matter where we live, the important thing is that we are still fighting to have a team here.

“Cricket is very important to me. I grew up with it and I hope one day I can play for Afghanistan.”

Afghan celebrated her 18th birthday recently with friends and family in Australia.

“My family all love Melbourne because it’s a beautiful city and we chose it for the Melbourne Cricket Ground,” she said.

“When I was in Afghanistan I always said that one day I will go to Melbourne to see the MCG and I’ve finally been successful.”

What is the background?

The growth of cricket in the country helped Afghanistan become a full ICC member in 2017, coming with a requirement to have a national women’s team.

However, it was not until November 2020 that 25 female cricketers were awarded central contracts.

In 2021, the ACB received a $37million (£30.6m) ICC grant to be invested in developing the game for men and women.

The women were paid for the first six months of their contracts but after the Taliban came to power they did not receive any further payments.

After taking power, the Taliban has banned women from universities, parks and sports and raided the homes of female athletes.

In January, Australia withdrew from a men’s one-day series against Afghanistan because of the Taliban’s restrictions on women and girls.

Afghanistan men’s star Rashid Khan considered pulling out of Australia’s Big Bash League as a result, but the women’s team supported the boycott.

“When we don’t have the right to play, I don’t think you should either,” Afghan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

In November 2021, ICC chair Greg Barclay said the board was “committed” to supporting Afghanistan “to develop both men’s and women’s cricket”.

He added: “Cricket is fortunate to be in the position to influence positive change in Afghanistan with the national men’s team a source of great pride and unity in a country with a young population that has experienced more upheaval and change than most.”

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