Afghanistan’s tricolour national flag no longer has official status under Taliban rule, but the national cricket team has maintained it high to the joy of their Australian fans.Afghanistan, the youngest cricketing nation, will compete in Australia’s T20 World Cup in October and November.
First visit since 2015.Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs are excited for Afghanistan’s match against England today.Dandenong and Casey have Australia’s largest Afghan communities, and many use cricket to engage with the local culture.
Ziauddin Zia, captain of a Fountain Gate community team, told ABC that Afghanistan’s involvement meant a lot to the Afghan diaspora.Mr. Zia said Afghans everywhere are excited.”I have tickets for all the games in Adelaide, Melbourne, and Brisbane and will host my US-based brothers and cousins.”
Mr. Zia said the sport helps rehabilitate and console Afghan refugees traumatised by decades of violence and the Taliban’s return to power last year.”They’ve all experienced personal sorrow, and some are still suffering with being separated from their families,” he said.
After the US withdrawal and the Taliban’s arrival in Kabul, Australia offered refuge to thousands of Afghans fearing persecution.
Jalal Ahmadzai began following cricket when Afghanistan joined the ICC in 2017. ProvidedJalal Ahmadzai, a beneficiary of Australia’s Humanitarian Program, is excited to see Rashid Khan, Rehmanullah Gurbaz, and Fazalhaq Faruqi.
Mr. Ahmadzai’s family is eager for the Afghan team to visit Australia, he said.”We have outstanding cricket skill, and it provides pleasure to our people when they compete against major teams,” said Mr. Ahmadzai, who escaped Kabul before the Taliban took over.
Since then, the Taliban have banned the national anthem and replaced the tricolour flag with a black faith proclamation on a white backdrop.
“When the Afghan cricket team holds up the national flag during the national anthem on international grounds, it gives us a sense of pride and shows the world that Afghanistan is not just about war and suffering,” said Mr. Ahmadzai, adding that talented cricketers from the war-ravaged country have provided a positive image of the country.Melbourne’s Afghan refugees play cricket.
Afghanistan no longer has a women’s cricket team, which dampens the joy of many supporters.After the Taliban took power, a player was reportedly threatened with execution if she continued to play, and several escaped to Canada and Australia.The Taliban have sent different messages about women playing professionally.
A Melbourne-based national cricket team member said she and her teammates were planning for a comeback.”It’s a shame we’re not playing, but I’m delighted to watch matches live in the stadium and support my club,” she remarked.
Zohal Meraj, who plays cricket in Melbourne with her father and brother, will cheer for the “Blue Tigers” during the T20 World Cup.
Ms. Meraj said, “I’d want to see our female team.”Sydney-based therapist Gharsa Ghazal will fly down with three other Afghan women to see Afghanistan play New Zealand at the MCG.
“Afghan girls interested in cricket have so much freedom, resources, and chances in Australia,” she remarked. Roya Samim, who resides in Canada, was set to captain Afghanistan’s women’s cricket team when the Taliban returned. Provided.AMES Australia board member Molina Asthana was amazed by the women’s talent and enthusiasm.”They’re eager to play,” she remarked.
During the 1990s, Afghan cricket was cultivated by immigrants from Pakistan.Local analyst and former Afghanistan Cricket Board communications manager Ibrahim Momand told the ABC the Afghans have brought fresh vitality to the game.”I can think of no other team with such constant and rapid growth and fan following as Afghanistan,” he remarked.Afghanistan has steadily climbed in fame and ranks, gaining full ICC membership in 2017.Zohal and Zahil Meraj are excited to visit Rashid Khan in Australia.
Mr. Momand said Afghans pinned their hopes on the cricketers amid the humanitarian catastrophe.Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, and Rehmanullah Gurbaz are well-known thanks to their performances in the Big Bash.
Australian cricket analyst Gideon Haigh stated the young Afghan squad had a tough assignment. “They’ll struggle,” he remarked. They have world-class players, and we know the impact they can have in shorter settings.
Afghan-Aussies do not care if their cricket team wins or loses early on. “It’s all about experience and playing big teams,” said Mr. Ahmadzai. We are proud of the team win or lose.