What has the ICC done for Afghanistan’s women cricketers?

As Afghanistan’s men rightly celebrate their achievements in the World Cup there are questions for the International Cricket Council about its women. My letter below, repeated twice, unanswered thrice.

Media office
International Cricket Council

I am a British author and journalist who writes regularly about cricket. I am co-presenter of a weekly cricket-themed podcast, with a global following. I would be grateful for the following information about the ICC’s policy towards Afghan cricket, which is not available on its website.

1) What decisions on this matter did the ICC reach in its Board meeting in March this year? Some media report that it gave the Afghan Cricket Board its full allocation of the shared revenues from international cricket (a considerable uplift from the last such allocation) and also offered technical help in the training of male coaches. No conditions were attached. Is this correct?
2) If any conditions were attached, how is the ACB’s compliance being monitored?
3) Have there been any amendments to the ICC’s decisions since then?
4) It was also reported in several sources that the ICC had rejected proposals to allocate part of these revenues to Afghan women in exile, on the grounds that only national boards are entitled to spend money on any aspect of their country’s cricket. Is this correct?
5) The ICC set up a Working Party on Afghanistan in November 2021. How many times has it visited the country since then?
6) The Working Party had no women members. Did it include any female staff? If not, was this a deliberate decision by the ICC and if so, what were its motives?
7) The absence of women in the Working Party would have inhibited its ability to speak to any Afghan women in the country. Did it make any efforts to achieve this and did they have any success?
8) Did the Working Party provide any means for women and other persecuted groups to give evidence to it in secret?
9) Did the Working Party contain anyone with knowledge of the principal languages of Afghanistan, who was able to read a document and understand a conversation in them?
10) The website and annual report of the Afghan Cricket Board show no female members or staff. Did the Working Party see any female influence on the work of the Board?
11) The website and annual report show no cricket of any kind by women or girls in Afghanistan in 2022. Did the Working Party observe any?
12) What impression did the Working Party receive of the actual control over cricket exercised by the Board in all parts of the country (and indeed of the authority of the central government)?
13) Did the Working Party observe any male cricket matches in Afghanistan? If so, were women among the spectators and what conditions were imposed upon them? How and by whom were these matches policed?
14) Did the Working Party understand the public order régime under which cricket matches are played in Afghanistan?
15) Is cricket broadcast and televised in Afghanistan? If so, by whom and under what conditions imposed by the Taliban government or local leaders?
16) In relation to questions 12 to 15, did the Working Party detect any influence by the restored Ministry for the Suppression of Vice and the Restoration of Virtue? This body made itself detested in the first period of Taliban rule for its cruelty, fanaticism and extortion.
17) Did the Working Party receive any information from male cricketers about the conditions under which they play inside the country? For many reasons they and their families may be especially vulnerable to duress from the Taliban nationally or locally.
18) Many of those male cricketers will have sisters or other female relatives who want to play cricket or at least watch it. Were they asked about them and their ambitions? If so, what responses did they receive? Negative ones would be as instructive as positive.
19) Media reports indicate constantly that living conditions in Afghanistan are deteriorating, especially for women and persecuted minorities. The already exiguous prospects for women cricketers in the country were hit still further by Taliban decrees banning women from public parks, schools and universities and unaccompanied journeys. Stonings have been restored as punishments (possibly in stadiums used for cricket.) Has the ICC sought or received any information on these matters from the remaining NGOs working in Afghanistan?
20) What is the rationale behind the ICC’s decision to maintain Afghanistan’s full member status? What steps has the ICC taken to ensure that the benefits of this status flow to Afghanistan’s cricketers and cricket lovers of all genders, faiths and ethnic origins and are not appropriated by national or local Taliban leaders?

I hope you would agree that these are reasonable questions and that the ICC would find it beneficial to publish a response.

Richard Heller

03. November 2023 by rkh
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