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Taliban loves cricket: Afghanistan Board CEO

August 16, 2021 17:08 IST
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Afghanistan will play T20 World Cup, says media manager.

Afganistan players

IMAGE: 'We are looking for a venue for the tri-series involving Australia and West Indies and that will be the best preparation for the T20 World Cup' (Image used for representational purposes). Photograph: ICC/Twitter

With an eye on the current turmoil in Afghanistan, questions have been raised on whether the team will be ready to participate in the upcoming T20 World Cup. But the Afghanistan Cricket Board has made it clear that the team will be ready for action when the showpiece event gets underway in Dubai.

Speaking to ANI, the Afghanistan cricket team's media manager Hikmat Hassan said there is no doubt with regards to participating in the T20 World Cup and the board is keen to go ahead with a tri-series involving Australia and West Indies to help in preparations for the showpiece event.

 

"Yes, we will play in the T20 World Cup. The preparations are on and the available players will be back to training in Kabul in the next few days. We are looking for a venue for the tri-series involving Australia and West Indies and that will be the best preparation for the showpiece event. We are speaking to some countries like Sri Lanka and also, I think Malaysia. Let's see how that pans out.

"We are already set to play Pakistan in Hambantota and that series is also on. Also, we are planning to go ahead with the domestic T20 tournament which shall boost preparations for the players ahead of the T20 World Cup," Hassan said.

Asked if the board officials had a word with Rashid Khan or Mohammad Nabi as they are not in the country at present, he said: "We are always there to help our players and their families. We will do whatever is possible for them. Things are not affected much in Kabul, we are already back in the office, so there is nothing to worry about."

Afghanistan’s cricket board CEO Hamid Shinwari, said the Taliban "love" and "support" the game.

Speaking to PTI from Kabul, Shinwari also assured that the members of the national team and their families are safe as the Taliban took over the reins of the country.

Star players including Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Zadran are playing in the UK in the 'Hundred' tournament.

"Taliban loves cricket. They have supported us since the beginning. They did not interfere in our activities," said Shinwari.

"I don't see any interference and expect support so that our cricket can move forward. We have got an active chairman, I remain CEO until further notice," added the top Afghanistan Cricket Board official.

Cricket's rise in the country coincided with Taliban's rule between 1996 and 2001 with many Afghan refugees in neighbouring Pakistan picking up the sport.  

"It can be said that cricket flourished during the Taliban era. It is also a fact that many of our players practised in Peshawar and they made the sport mainstream in Afghanistan.

"The good thing is that we are heading towards normalcy. The people have started working. We will resume our office from tomorrow and the national camp which was underway ahead of the Pakistan series in Sri Lanka will also resume after a two-day break with the change in regime," said Shinwari.

Talking about the players safety, he said: "Other than four or five players who are playing overseas the rest are all in Kabul. Like I said, they are safe and doing fine."

Asadullah Khan, who resigned as Afghanistan chief selector earlier this month, also thinks that cricket will not be a casualty under the Taliban rule.

"I personally have gone to the areas where Taliban ruled. They really liked the game. So, from that point of view it should not be an issue.

"Too much political intervention in cricket has affected the sport negatively over the past 24 months and that needs to change," Khan said referring to the frequent administrative changes in the board and leadership of the national team.

Shinwari added that he hopes major cricketing powers including BCCI play with them more often, providing a big push to their finances and over health of the game in the country. 

"We want to establish regular bilateral cricket ties with all cricketing giants including BCCI which has always been there for us," he added.

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