Taliban sacks Afghan Cricket Board CEO Hamid Shinwari

The move is the second major change in the game’s national governing body since the Taliban took control of the country last month.

The ACB last month renamed Azizullah Fazli as the ACB's chairman in what was the board's first major appointment since the Taliban takeover [File: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP]

Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers have sacked Hamid Shinwari, the chief executive of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), and replaced him with Naseeb Khan in the second major change in the game’s top governing body since the group captured power last month.

The Taliban named a new government this month after a stunning military sweep of the country triggered the collapse of Western-backed government. The Taliban onslaught came as United States-led foreign forces were completing their withdrawal after 20 years of war.

Shinwari confirmed in a text message to Reuters news agency that he had been fired from his post. The ACB announced Khan as Shinwari’s replacement in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

The ACB last month named Azizullah Fazli as its chairman in what was the board’s first major appointment since the Taliban takeover. Fazli had previously served as the chairman between 2018 and 2019.

Earlier this month, Shinwari urged other national teams not to shun the country over its new ruler’s suggestion that it might ban women from the sport.

This came after the Australian cricket board said it would scrap a planned test match against the Afghanistan men’s team if the Taliban did not allow women to play the sport.

The Afghan women’s squad was disbanded amid safety concerns a few years after it was formed in 2010 but the ACB revived the team last year and gave contracts to 25 players.

The Taliban says it has changed since its1996-2001 rule, when it barred women from leaving home without a male relative and shut schools for girls, but it stirred scepticism when it said last week that it would open schools for high school-aged boys but not girls.

On Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid assured that secondary schools will be opened “as soon as possible”. He said that “a safe learning environment” is needed before older girls could fully return to school.

Cricket was first played in Afghanistan by British troops in the 19th century, but it took root in the 1990s after Afghans who had learnt the game in refugee camps in Pakistan returned home.

It was initially banned by the Taliban during their 1996-2001 rule but later permitted and has since become hugely popular.

The ACB joined the International Cricket Council in 2001 as an affiliate member, gaining full membership in 2017.

Source: Reuters