CHENNAI: Soon after the Taliban took over the reins of Afghanistan, the country's premier cricketers — Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi — took to Twitter seeking support from the world leaders. The cricketers made the emotional appeal from the United Kingdom, where they were playing for their respective franchises in the inaugural 'The Hundred' tournament.
Azizullah Fazli, the new chairman of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), however, affirmed that they spoke to these cricketers and gave them assurance that the country is safe. "We have spoken to those players who were worried about the political situation in Afghanistan. We have assured them regarding the current situation and that the country is secure. Now, they are in a good mood," Fazli told this daily in a reply to a questionnaire sent to him on Tuesday.
He also confirmed that the ACB is planning a preparatory camp for the national team in a foreign country. "We will have a camp for the Afghanistan cricket team in a foreign country to ensure they will be well prepared for the T20 World Cup commencing in October in UAE and Oman."
The political upheaval in the country also led to speculations over Afghan cricketers' participation in the Indian Premier League resuming next month. The ACB chairman assured that their cricketers will participate in the IPL as usual.
Afghanistan were scheduled to play their first bilateral series against Pakistan in Hambantota, Sri Lanka starting next month. The three-match ODI series, however, was postponed on Monday. "Due to the overall conditions including mental health of the players, we had to postpone the series," ACB CEO Hamid Shinwari was quoted as saying. Fazli also asserted that the series will be played next year. "Both the teams will play the series in 2022. The venue has not been finalised yet."
Speaking on his role as ACB chairman and the plans ahead, he said, "After the Afghanistan Islamic Emirate took control of the country, they decided to look for the right and deserving person to lead the cricket board. Finally, they appointed me as the chairman. It has to be mentioned here that I have worked for Afghanistan cricket development for nearly two decades. It's my first week into the job and we are already on our way to organise Shpageeza Tournament, a local T20 league being organised by the board. I hope we will continue doing the good work," Fazli signed off.