The Australian men’s team has withdrawn from an upcoming series against Afghanistan in response to the ruling Taliban’s “concerning” restrictions on women and girl’s activities in the nation.
A three-match one-day series, which forms part of the ICC Super League, was scheduled for March to be played in the United Arab Emirates.
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But after “extensive consultation” with relevant stakeholders, including the Australian government, Cricket Australia decided that it wouldn‘t go ahead.
“This decision follows the recent announcement by the Taliban of further restrictions on women’s and girls’ education and employment opportunities and their ability to access parks and gyms,” a CA statement said.
“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.”
Australia will forfeit 30 competition points for the series, which go towards World Cup qualification, and they be awarded to Afghanistan. But the Aussies have already secured automatic qualification to the ODI World Cup in India in October.
Afghanistan is the only ICC full member nation without a women‘s team, and won’t have a team at the inaugural Women’s U19 T20 World Cup starting on Saturday.
The issue remains of concern to the ICC and CEO Geoff Allardice said overnight that developments in Afghanistan were a matter certain to be discussed at the next meeting.
“Obviously, the recent developments (banning higher education for girls) in Afghanistan are concerning,” Allardice said during a virtual press conference.
“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.”
Australia has never played Afghanistan in an ODI or T20 bilateral series.