Afghan women cricketers seek ICC help to form refugee team

Afghan women play cricket in Herat on 9 December 2015 (AFP via Getty)
Afghan women play cricket in Herat on 9 December 2015 (AFP via Getty)

Afghan women cricketers have asked the International Cricket Council to help them form a refugee team after the country’s men’s team was commended for its performance in the recently concluded T20 World Cup.

A letter written by 17 Afghan women cricketers to the governing body noted that the Taliban government has banned women from education, work and sports.

“A profound sadness remains that we, as women, can’t represent our country like the male cricketers,” the cricketers said in the letter seeking financial and leadership support from the ICC.

“We aim to represent all Afghan women who dream of playing cricket but are unable to in Afghanistan,” they said and asked the council to “assist us in setting up a refugee team in Australia”.

The council’s support for the proposed team, they said, “would give Afghan refugees a chance to play, coach and administer” the team without borders.

“The creation of this team will allow all Afghan women who want to represent their country to come together under one banner,” the letter said.

Noting the impressive performance of the men’s team in the world cup, the women said they likewise aimed to “compete at the highest levels”.

“We want to recruit and train girls and women who love cricket to show the world the talent of Afghan women and to demonstrate the great victories they can achieve if given a chance through the leadership and financial support of the ICC,” the letter said.

After returning to power in 2021, the Taliban left the two dozen women playing under the Afghanistan Cricket Board without national support. The women took refuge in Australia.

Many of them have continued playing in Australia’s domestic competitions but haven’t had access to international cricket, despite the governing body’s regulations requiring all test playing members to support both men’s and women’s national teams.

Australia has declined three invitations to play against Afghanistan’s men’s team because of the Taliban’s restrictions on women and, earlier this year, withdrew from a series that was due to be played in the UAE in August.