Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) CEO Hamid Shinwari on Friday asked Cricket Australia (CA) to reconsider its decision not to host its men's team for a Test in November after the Taliban banned women from playing sport, saying such a move will only isolate the strife-torn country.
Soon after forming an interim government, the Taliban banned women from playing cricket or any others sports, casting doubts over Afghanistan men's team Test status. As per ICC rules, all Test-playing nations must have a women's team as well.
Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday said that its men's team's season-opening Test against Afghanistan, slated to start on November 27 in Hobart, will be scrapped due if Taliban doesn't allow women in sports.
In a statement, ACB CEO Hamid Shinwari expressed "shock and immense disappointment" at the potential cancellation of the Australia-Afghanistan Test, which it described as "sudden and unexpected".
The ACB CEO said there is an alternative to cancelling this "significant, history making Test match". But, instead of offering any such alternative, the ACB said it is "powerless to change the culture and religious environment of Afghanistan".
"We ask Cricket Australia and the whole cricketing world to keep the door open for us, walk with us, do not isolate us and avoid penalising us for our cultural and religious environment," Shinwari said.
"We accept that CA sees cricket as ‘a sport for all and we support the game unequivocally for women at every level’.
"We understand, too, why ‘if recent media reports that women’s cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated’, CA might believe they have ‘no alternative’ but to refuse to host the scheduled test match," he said.
Shinwari said it fears that if other countries follow CA, then Afghanistan will be alienated from the cricket world and the game may cease to exist in the country.
"If the CA decides to cancel the test match and isolate the Afghan men’s national team, it will have no impact upon those cultural and religious values as they stand. The spokesman for the government has unequivocally stated this," he said.
It said the Taliban's diktat regarding women’s participation in cricket was not substantially different to the ACB’s cultural and religious environment during the earlier governments.
Hel also brought the the International Cricket Council into the picture.
"ICC has been aware of our cultural and religious environment and it has taken a balanced, diplomatic, sensitive and considerate approach as we have worked to develop every aspect of the game of cricket in our country despite the situations we have faced.
"We believe that the ICC has had the forethought to recognise and accept that we have been doing all we can to grow cricket in the traditional cultural, religious and changing political environments of our country
"The alternative to cancellation of the test match would be for CA to take the same approach as the ICC. A considered, balanced, ‘cricket diplomacy’ would be far more productive for Afghanistan and for cricket than a sudden ‘knee jerk’ reaction," he added.