“Do not isolate us”: ACB CEO Shinwari urges Cricket Australia to reconsider its decision to cancel one-off Test

Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) CEO Hamid Shinwari on Friday (September 10) urged Cricket Australia (CA) to reconsider its decision not to host Afghanistan men’s team for a one-off Test match in November in Hobart after the Taliban banned women from playing sport.

Recently, Cricket Australia (CA) stated that it will cancel the one-off Test match between Afghanistan and Australia later this year if Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban bans women from playing sport, though the ACB said it is “powerless to change the culture and religious environment of Afghanistan”.

Reacting to the “sudden and unexpected” news from CA, Shinwari has expressed his “shock and immense disappointment” over the potential cancellation of the Hobart Test, saying canceling the match would only rob Afghanistan’s young fans of the chance to see their heroes play internationally and will only isolate the strife-torn country.

The ACB CEO further urged CA not to isolate Afghanistan from international cricket, as he fears other nations could follow them, saying “agreeing to host the match would be a treasured gift to the people Afghanistan by Australia and it will build relationships rather than close minds.”

Shinwari said in a statement: “It was with shock and immense disappointment that the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) received the sudden and unexpected news from Cricket Australia of the potential cancellation of the Australia-Afghanistan Cricket Test Match scheduled for 27 November 2021.”

He added, “We accept that Cricket Australia (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.”

The ACB CEO continued, “We believe there is an alternative to canceling this significant, history-making Test match. We believe, however, that there is an alternative. Our country has experienced 40 years of war and violence since Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1979. This has included numerous changes in the governance of our country and approaches to both our traditional cultures and our Islamic faith.

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.”

Shinwari also said the 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.”

He added, “We believe that the ICC has had the forethought to recognize 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.”

Shinwari concluded, “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 penalizing us for our cultural and religious environment.”