22 Oct 2021

ICC must clarify situation with Afghanistan's female cricketers

6:29 am on 22 October 2021

The New Zealand Cricket Players Association (NZCPA) is urging the ICC for clarity and action on Afghanistan amid ongoing concern for female cricketers there.

Afghanistan cricket fans


The Taliban takeover of the country was fuelling worry the regime would reinstate a ban on women and girls playing sport in Afghanistan.

Reports had also emerged several leading female cricketers had fled to other nations.

Despite the concern, the country's men's side were due to start their campaign at the T20 World Cup next week, and were scheduled to play the Black Caps in Abu Dhabi on November 7.

Afghanistan's presence at the tournament was being questioned by some and NZCPA chief executive Heath Mills, also the chairman of the umbrella body for all national player associations, FICA, said it wasn't an ideal scenario.

"I do have a degree of uncomfortableness about a situation where we are playing Afghanistan [because] if they are saying women can't play cricket then that would be unacceptable to us but I'm not sure that has been determined for certain at this point.

"We need to wait and understand where it is at from the ICC's perspective, but certainly if that becomes an eventuality and women are not able to participate in our sport in that country then I can't see how they can remain as a full member of the ICC."

One of cricket's "Big Three" nations had already expressed unease, with Cricket Australia saying their one-off test against Afghanistan in Australia next month was likely to be postponed.

But the sport's global governing body had been less definitive.

The Black Caps celebrate the wicket of Rahmat Shah in their World Cup pool match in Taunton.

Photo: AFP

ICC interim chief executive Geoff Allardice said they were "waiting to see how things unfold under a different regime" in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Cricket Board chair Azizullah Fazli insisted concern was unwarranted, saying he had been told by top Taliban officials there was no official ban on women's sport.

But Mills said they had heard differing reports.

"There have been some positive comments made but we also understand women aren't able to participate in the sport at the moment, so it's not clear.

"That's what the ICC needs to do. Find out exactly what is going on and be very clear that if we have a full member of the sport who is not allowing women to participate then that is unacceptable and something needs to be done about, it sooner rather than later."

Mills said the NZCPA had raised the issue with New Zealand Cricket and hoped it would be high on the agenda list at the ICC board meeting being held at the conclusion of the T20 World Cup.

While he had not spoken directly with Black Caps players about the situation, Mills said he was certain they would share his sentiments of concern about women potentially being denied their right to play.

"The ICC, and the other relevant stakeholders in the game, need to be working pretty quickly to understand what's happened.

"If, as we are led to believe, it's going to be very difficult for women to participate in cricket in Afghanistan then that's unacceptable and there needs to be some action taken.

"We encourage the ICC to address the matter as soon as they can."