Afghanistan women players call on ICC to establish refugee team in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia — Former members of the Afghanistan women’s cricket team have written to the International Cricket Council (ICC), seeking “support and assistance” to establish a refugee team based in Australia, where many of them now reside.

The global governing body has been largely silent on the issue since the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan. Cricket Australia previously called off a series against Afghanistan earlier this year, citing “deteriorating human rights for women and girls in the country under Taliban rule.” Afghanistan remains the only Full Member nation without a women’s team.

Richard Gould, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), told The Cricketer that England would not schedule bilateral series against Afghanistan while the country lacks a women’s team.

On Saturday, after Afghanistan’s men’s team reached the T20 World Cup semi-finals, the exiled women’s national team members in Australia wrote to ICC chair Greg Barclay, “asking the ICC to assist us in setting up a refugee team in Australia.”

“We, the formerly contracted players of the Afghanistan Women’s team, are proud and excited by the achievements of Afghanistan at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and wish to congratulate Rashid Khan and his team on reaching the semi-finals,” the letter read.

“A profound sadness remains that we, as women, cannot represent our country like the male cricketers.”

The former players emphasized their inability to represent the Afghanistan women’s national team while living abroad and called on the ICC to help establish a refugee team in Australia. They suggested that the team could be administered by the East Asian Cricket office based at Cricket Australia.

“Through this team, we aim to represent all Afghan women who dream of playing cricket but are unable to in Afghanistan,” they wrote. “Creating a team of Afghan refugees can give us a chance to play, coach, and administer a cricket 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 outlined the goals of developing and showcasing their talent, giving hope to women remaining in Afghanistan, and drawing attention to the challenges faced by Afghan women.

“Like the Afghanistan men’s team, we aim 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 concluded.