With the power in the hands of the Taliban now, the future of women’s cricket in Afghanistan is in the dark as the issue will be disclosed in the ICC meeting on April 10.
The rising turmoil also threatened the careers of the national men’s cricket team as there was a debate over whether their contracts should be revoked.
Last year Australia also called off the only historic Test match against Afghanistan.
The national team continued to play international cricket. However, before reaching any conclusion ICC has chosen to wait until the results of a working committee tasked with reviewing the matter are released.
The working group, which includes Ross McCollum (Ireland chair), Ramiz Raja (Pakistan chair), and Lawson Naidoo (South Africa chair) and is chaired by board veteran Imran Khwaja, has met several times since its formation in November, interviewing past and present officials and closely monitoring developments at ACB.
According to sources, the working committee deemed Mirwais Ashraf, a 33-year-old Afghanistan allrounder, to be in accordance with the ACB and ICC constitutions in what is expected to be its single recommendation to the ICC board. Ashraf will join the ICC board of directors if he is approved by the board.
Following the Taliban takeover, the ACB was thrown into chaos, with various groups within the board vying for authority. It resulted in Ashraf taking over from Azizullah Fazli, who had only been in command for two months.
“There needs to be stability within ACB,” a former ACB official who was interviewed by the working group, told ESPNcricinfo. “The chairman is meant to be in the role for three years. There need to be clear directions (by the ICC) to the government that the constitution and procedures need to be met.
“I told them (working group) that Afghanistan cricket shouldn’t be sabotaged because of the Taliban’s takeover of the country.”
Before the Taliban, ACB had announced central contracts for a pool of women. After the takeover, there were rumours that women cricketers are fleeing the country amid the Islamist group will reimpose a ban on the female sport.
“There is no way to know if women’s cricket is developing there right now,” an official familiar with the situation said. “The ACB is saying that women are still allowed to play. Indication is that the ACB is trying. Every country has an obligation to develop women’s cricket.”
“Women’s cricket was moving in the right direction prior to the situation changing,” McCollum told ESPNcricinfo. “The priority is to make sure their players are still available and can play. It’s a difficult situation. Afghanistan is complex.”
In case the issue further rises, the ICC will make payments on behalf of the ACB.
“There is no impropriety at the moment and no reason to believe there would be danger of funds being sequestered,” an official said, with controlled funding not set to be part of the recommendations.
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