Cricket Australia (CA) will cancel its men’s Test match with Afghanistan if reports that the women’s team cannot play under Taliban rule are true.
On Wednesday, the International Cricket Council said it was concerned by Taliban cultural commission deputy head Ahmadullah Wasiq’s comments.
Wasiq told Australian broadcaster SBS News: “I don’t think women will be allowed to play cricket.”
CA said they “support the game unequivocally” for women at all levels.
“If recent media reports that women’s cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated, Cricket Australia would have no alternative but to not host Afghanistan for the proposed test match due to be played in Hobart,” they added.
Australia was scheduled to host their first-ever Test against Afghanistan from 26 November ahead of the Ashes series with England, which begins on 8 December.
The men’s team has already received support from the Taliban – but under ICC rules all 12 full members must have a national women’s team, with only full members able to play Test matches.
The ICC expressed concerns after Wasiq said: “I don’t think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play.
“In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this.”
- Afghanistan and the threat to progress through the sport
An ICC statement said the organization “is committed to the long-term growth of women’s cricket and despite the cultural and religious challenges in Afghanistan, steady progress had been made in this area since Afghanistan’s admission as a full member in 2017”.
The statement continued: “The ICC has been monitoring the changing situation in Afghanistan and is concerned to note recent media reports that women will no longer be allowed to play cricket.
“This, and the impact it will have on the continued development of the game, will be discussed by the ICC board at its next meeting.”
The Taliban named a new government on Tuesday, three weeks after reclaiming power, but doubts remain over the regime’s rules.
“So far, we don’t have any news from the government,” Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chief executive Hamid Shinwari said in a telephone interview with SBC and Reuters.
Last week, BBC Sport reported how many of the women’s teams are in hiding in Kabul, claiming members of the Taliban have already come looking for them.
When the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan two decades ago, girls were not allowed to attend school and women were banned from work and education.