Nov 17 (Reuters) – The International Cricket Council has set up a working group to determine the future of the game in Afghanistan under the Taliban government, the world governing body said on Wednesday.
Afghanistan’s remarkable rise in cricket in recent years has been the sport’s biggest adventure story, but the war-torn nation risks international isolation following the country’s Taliban takeover in August.
Cricket Australia has postponed a one-off test for men against Afghanistan in Hobart – which was scheduled for later this month – if the new government in Kabul did not allow women to practice the sport.
“The ICC Board is committed to continuing to support Afghanistan Cricket to develop both men’s and women’s cricket going forward,” ICC President Greg Barclay said in a statement.
“We believe that the most effective way for this to happen will be to support our member in its efforts to achieve this through its relationship with the new government.”
Taliban officials have said they will not repeat the harsh rule of the former Taliban government, which banned most girls’ education and banned women from going out in public without a male guardian.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
The ICC had taken a wait-and-see approach to whether Afghanistan can continue as a full member – so it can play test matches – and the issue came up during the board meeting in Dubai at the end of the Twenty20 World Cup last week.
“Cricket is fortunate to be able to influence positive change in Afghanistan with the national team a source of great pride and unity in a country with a young population that has experienced more upheavals and changes than most,” Barclay added.
“We should protect that status and continue to try to influence change through the ACB, but we will continue to monitor the situation closely and make any decisions accordingly.”
Among other decisions, the ICC also appointed former India captain and current chief executive Sourav Ganguly as chairman of its cricket committee, replacing the big spin-bowling big Anil Kumble, whose maximum nine-year term ended this month.
Reporting of Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa
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