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Cricket returns to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan 



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For the first time since the Tabilan took control of Afghanistan, a cricket match was played at the Kabul International Stadium on 3 September 2021. As the Afghan and Taliban flags fluttered at the venue, thousands of fans turned up at the stadium to witness the action live.

The game, which was part of the Independence Trophy, saw several Afghan internationals such as Gulbadin Naib, Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi feature in it.

Speaking about the game and how it is important for peace building, Afghanistan Cricket Board’s (ACB) chief executive Hamid Shinwar told ESPNcricinfo:

“The names [of the teams] indicate that this game is an important contributor to peace-building and peace protection. It’s the people’s demand that we want to have peace in the country in order to live a normal life and enjoy such opportunities.”

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He added:

“This game can bring peace and prosperity and happiness to the nation. It could significantly contribute to the country’s economy and household economy. So, why not invest in sport? We have got a huge mass of youth. Investing in youth means investing in the future.”

Women’s cricket “in peril” in Afghanistan – ACB chief

Afghanistan cricketers Usman and Farhan walk out into the middle
Afghanistan cricketers Usman and Farhan walk out into the middle

Hamid Shinwari said that women were allowed to attend the game. But he was quick to add that women cricketers and their support staff are still “in peril”. Shinwari looked unsure about the whole situation and said:

“There was no restriction for women to attend this match. It was open to everyone. Maybe, the future set-up will be able to communicate better than I do. Currently, women cricketers and women’s cricket staff are in peril.”

Shinwari also believes that cricket could help build Afghanistan and noted that the game could change the future of the country. He explained:

“It (cricket) is the game-changer. It is perceived as a game-changer. It is my mission and aim to support and manage cricket development in the country. In a short time, we have got very good payoff in terms of Rashid, Nabi and many other players. They are bringing in revenue to the country and pride. They are positive models for the country’s youth. Investing in this game will have the capacity to change the future of the country.”

Hamid Shinwari also requested that the current government in Afghanistan back the sport and maintain good relations with the International Cricket Council (ICC).

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