Hobart’s Hazara community will help determine whether the city hosts a men’s cricket Test between Australia and Afghanistan.
The first ever Test involving the two nations, originally slated for 2020 but delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled to start on November 27.
The match looms as a key Ashes tune-up for Tim Paine’s side but also a significant fixture for the Tasmanian skipper and indeed Cricket Tasmania, which hasn’t hosted a Test since 2016.
The Taliban, who recently completed a swift takeover of Afghanistan, has declared it wants the game to happen.
But the question as to whether it should remains unanswered in the minds of many.
Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein, speaking in a state budget estimates hearing on Monday, highlighted reports about the future of women’s sport in Afghanistan as being “particularly” concerning.
“I have very real concerns as to whether or not the state should hold that match without some very clear commitments being made around it, in terms of the future of women’s sport,” Gutwein said.
“What I intend to do, in terms of that match going ahead, is reach out to the Hazara community later this week and have a chat with the local communities here to get a sense as to their view.
“We’ll be seeking to engage with the Australian Cricket Board (Cricket Australia).
“If our local community felt that it would be sensible and perhaps confidence building to allow that match to go ahead then obviously that’s a different matter.
“But I think we need to get some advice.”
The Taliban violently persecuted Hazaras, Afghanistan’s third largest ethnic group and a religious minority, when governing from 1996 to 2001.
The Taliban has vowed to be more moderate and inclusive since reclaiming power but human rights organisation Amnesty International says there was a massacre of nine Hazara men in July.
CA noted on Monday it is in regular dialogue with the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the federal government about the tour.
“Clearly, some of the issues arising are significant global matters which transcend the game of cricket,” a CA spokesperson said.
“Cricket Australia considers itself a leader in driving the evolution and promotion of the women’s game globally.
“Our vision for cricket is that it is a sport for all and we continue to support the game unequivocally for women and men at every level of the game.”
The ICC, which has the power to revoke member status, is following the state of Afghanistan’s women’s program closely.
Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chief executive Hamid Shinwari recently insisted the tour of Australia will proceed.
Shinwari also told ESPNcricinfo that the ACB and CA are in talks regarding a Twenty20 tri-series on neutral turf in October, which would serve as match practice for the World Cup.
This summer’s domestic and international schedule remains clouded by COVID-19 and border closures, with further changes on the cards after the women’s Australia-India series was shifted to Queensland.