International cricketers should support Afghanistan's men's team, not punish them by boycotting matches if the Taliban bars women from playing, the former director of the women's side said.
Tuba Sangar, who fled the country for Canada shortly after the fall of the country to the hardline Islamist group, warned that sports sanctions would damage the game at the grassroots -- including for women and girls.
"It's not a good idea to boycott the male team. They did a lot for Afghanistan -- they introduced Afghanistan to the world in a positive way," Sangar told AFP on Tuesday.
"If we don't have a male team any more, there would be no hope for cricket overall," said the 28-year-old, who was the director of women's cricket at the Afghanistan Cricket Board from 2014-2020.
Australia's cricket chiefs threatened to cancel a historic maiden Test between the two countries -- set to take place in November -- after a senior Taliban official went on television to say it was "not necessary" for women to play.
During their first stint in power, before being ousted in 2001, the Taliban banned most forms of entertainment -- including many sports -- and stadiums were used as public execution venues.
Women were completely banned from playing sport. But the sport has become immensely popular over the past few decades, largely as a result of cricket-mad Pakistan across the border.
This time round, the hardline Islamists have shown they do not mind men playing cricket, pulling together a match in the capital Kabul shortly after foreign forces withdrew.
But on Tuesday, Bashir Ahmad Rustamzai, Afghanistan's new director general for sports, declined to answer as to whether women will be allowed to play sports -- deferring it for top level Taliban leaders to decide.