Australian cricket team pull out of Afghanistan series in protest of Taliban's restrictions on women's rights
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Cricket Australia’s ODI series against Afghanistan originally scheduled for March is officially off.
The team were set to take on the Central Asian state in the United Arab Emirates, however, upon consultation have decided to back out of the three-match series.
Cricket.com.au reports that discussions with the Australian government as well as other stakeholders over current developments in the Taliban-run country led to the decision.
The Taliban had recently announced further restrictions on women and girls’ education and employment in the country.
After seizing the nation in September 2021 the militant political movement sought to immediately place restrictions on female participation in sports.
Cricket Australia released a statement, saying: “CA is committed to supporting growing the game for women and men around the world, including in Afghanistan, and will continue to engage with the Afghanistan Cricket Board in anticipation of improved conditions for women and girls in the country.
"We thank the Australian Government for its support on this matter."
Afghanistan is the only ICC member without a women’s team.
They’ll be the only ICC side without a team in the Women’s U19 T20 World Cup which kicks off this weekend.
The nation’s Taliban leaders had been condemned by ICC CEO Geoff Allardice who said recent developments were ‘concerning’.
Mr Allardice said: “Our board has been monitoring progress since the change of regime.
“It is a concern that progress is not being made in Afghanistan and it's something our board will consider at its next meeting in March. As far as we are aware, there isn't activity at the moment."
The Afghanistan Cricket Board criticised Cricket Australia’s decision, describing it as ‘pathetic’ and ‘an attempt to enter the realm of politics and politicise the sport’, via CNN.
The statement added: “By prioritising political interests over the principles of fair play and sportsmanship, Cricket Australia is undermining the integrity of the game and damaging the relationship between the two nations.
“The decision to withdraw from playing the upcoming ODI series against Afghanistan is unfair and unexpected and will have a negative impact on the development and growth of cricket in Afghanistan, as well as affect[ing] the love and passion of the Afghan nation for the game.”
The ACB statement noted that they were considering taking action on the matter and would be ‘rethinking the participation of Afghan players ‘ in Australia’s Big Bash League.
Australia will forfeit the ODI series with ICC ODI Super League points going to Afghanistan.