The Taliban love cricket

The British, the Soviets, and the Americans passed through Afghanistan, not leaving much good behind. Coca-Cola but a little democracy, and what could have evaporated with the return of the Taliban so that Joe Biden could brag to Americans that he would not waste time, lives, and money on wars in the remote places that were the vast majority of his population. Citizens do not even know how to locate it on the map and even less than that they know what their capital is. If many don’t even know one in Vermont…

The British legacy is cricket, albeit very bouncy. There is evidence of a game played in Kabul in 1839, during the Anglo-Afghan Wars, but the sport did not spread, time has passed, and only ironically has its roots with the Taliban coming to power in 1996, because Afghan refugees in Pakistan’s camps have learned how to play it, and have They brought her with them to the country at the end of their exile.

Afghan refugees in Pakistani camps learned the game and spread it on their return

The Taliban initially refused cricket, but they soon liked and encouraged it. After the conquest of the United States, it continued to develop until it became not only a national sport but also a brand of identity and prestige, with 320 clubs spread across the country, and a new national and league stadium sponsored by a telephone company from the United Arab Emirates. In a short time and out of nowhere, the Afghan national team played in the World Cup Finals, beating Ireland, Scotland and Zimbabwe for example. When an Afghan visits England or Australia, his guests mention the names of stars such as Rashid Khan, Muhammad Nabi, Hamid Hassan or Shapur Zadran, with appreciation and a little bit of envy, as when one of the Catalans went abroad and everyone told him “Messi, Messi …”. Well, that was before.

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Now, with his return, the Taliban have renewed the green light to play cricket, but only for men. This presents a problem, because the ICC (International Cricket Council) only recognizes as full members, with the ability to play tournaments and play international matches, those countries where women compete in an orderly fashion. To say that such a structure exists in Afghanistan would be an exaggeration, but it is clear that twenty-five Afghans have contracts with the Federation.

The Taliban says it has been reformed and mitigated, no longer preventing girls from going to school and women from leaving the house without a man. But letting them play cricket, absolutely nothing. They have already said that it goes against their religion and culture because they will show parts of their body (throwing a ball or hitting a bat with your face covered is frankly difficult), which is not acceptable and even less so in the age of social networks, when pictures are uploaded and the whole world can see them.

How will the ICC and the powers it exercises respond? There are those who demand that the legislation be strictly enforced, and the Taliban, as a punishment, are running out of cricket men. And there are those who argue that it would be a fatal and somewhat unfair blow to the men’s team members (some of whom play abroad and make a good living). From the start, the match that Afghanistan was scheduled to play Australia in Hobart was called into question.

If in Spain it is said that if the government changes it jumps to the janitor of RTVE, in Afghanistan the first thing the Taliban did – after promising moderation and forbidding men to trim their beards – was to replace the head of the cricket federation. Bad sign, no matter how you look at it.

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