A former Afghanistan Cricket Board employee believes boycotting the national cricket side will “destroy the hope of the Afghanistan people”.
The former women‘s development manager of the Afghanistan Cricket Board believes boycotting the men’s national side will “destroy the hope of the Afghanistan people” following the Taliban takeover.
After reports emerged that women would be forbidden from playing sport under the Islamist group’s regime, Cricket Australia announced it would have “no alternative” but to scrap the historic Test match scheduled for November.
The polarising decision prompted an emotional response from Hamid Shinwari, the Taliban-appointed ACB chief executive, who condemned the organisation’s “knee jerk” reaction.
A ban on women’s cricket would go against the International Cricket Council’s anti-discrimination policy, prompting calls for Afghanistan’s right to play Test cricket to be revoked.
The ICC Board will reportedly discuss the Asian nation’s status as a Full Member next month.
Watch our record-breaking women live and ad-break free during play on Kayo when they take on India in the Women’s ODI series. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free now >
Tuba Sangar served as the ACB’s women‘s development manager for seven years before fleeing Afghanistan after last month’s Taliban invasion.
She was a pivotal figure in last year’s historic signing of 25 female cricketers, who formed Afghanistan’s first women’s team.
But now, those players are reportedly in hiding or seeking passage out of the country after receiving death threats.
Speaking on the BBC Stumped podcast this week, Sangar called for the 25 cricketers to be flown out of Afghanistan.
“The thing that will help the Afghan women’s team, is to take the girls out of Afghanistan, bring them to a secure place, then other countries should help these girls play for Afghanistan from a third country, like Australia, like UK, like India,” she said.
Sangar also warned that cutting the Afghanistan men’s side off from the rest of the cricket world would do more harm than good.
“If the ICC or other countries boycott Afghanistan cricket, it won’t help women to play cricket,“ she said.
“The Afghanistan men‘s team have done a lot for Afghanistan. Because of them, we know cricket. Because of our men’s team, I know that women should play as well.
“A woman in Afghanistan knows about cricket because of the men‘s team. When Afghanistan men win a match, girls are thinking, ‘One day I should play for Afghanistan too’.
“If other countries, other worlds, take this from Afghanistan, I don‘t think it will help. It will destroy the hope of the Afghanistan people.
“The Taliban don‘t allow women to play cricket so the world doesn’t allow men to play cricket. From both sides, Afghanistan’s people will have lost the opportunity (to play).
“I hope other countries and ICC allow men or women to play cricket and take the right decision for Afghanistan cricket future, not just for their own self.”
Australian journalist Gideon Haigh echoed Sangar’s remarks on ABC’s Offsiders last weekend, arguing that CA’s response to the Afghanistan crisis was “well-meaning” but “premature”.
“I think it’s beholden on those who make the argument to explain exactly what a policy of exclusion would be accomplishing,” Haigh said.
“We’d be a better chance of exercising influence by maintaining links rather than severing them.
“The messages I’ve had from Afghanistan are, ‘Please don’t turn your back on us at this time while there’s so little hope in our lives’.”
On Monday, Australian batter Beth Mooney claimed the national women’s team was “100 per cent” behind CA’s stance.
“One of the driving forces of Australian cricket is making sure we provide cricket as a sport for all,” she said.
“If we’re not advocating for women’s cricket around the country and around the globe … we’re not putting our money where our mouth is.
“It’s a really important situation, and it transcends sport.”
Australian wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy was also asked about the Afghanistan situation on SEN earlier this week.
“Hopefully at the very least we might be able to get these wonderful women out,” Healy said.
”Even to another country that they might get an opportunity to even just play cricket, whether it be domestically or if they get to represent Afghanistan again that would be great. But just to see them playing cricket would be such a great thing, wherever that may be.”
But speaking ahead of Australia’s multi-format series against India, superstar all-rounder Ellyse Perry had no intention of weighing into the debate.
“I’m not educated on the whole situation, but it’s very disappointing for the modern world where we should only be increasing rights and opportunities for women,” she said.
Australia’s first ODI against India gets underway in Mackay on Tuesday, with the first ball scheduled for 10.05am AEST.