The Afghanistan Cricket Board has slammed Cricket Australia’s “pathetic” decision to withdraw from March’s three-match ODI series in the United Arab Emirates, threatening to contact the International Cricket Council and prohibit Afghan players from participating in the Big Bash League.
On Thursday afternoon, CA announced its decision to pull out of the white-ball series in response to the Taliban’s treatment of women, including growing restrictions on education and employment opportunities.
The Taliban recently banned teenage girls from schools and forbade women from attending universities in Afghanistan, which sparked global backlash.
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CA consulted relevant stakeholders and the Australian Government before withdrawing from the series, a decision that did not resonate well with Afghanistan’s cricket stars.
Adelaide Strikers leg-spinner Rashid Khan, one of the Big Bash Leauge’s most popular players, released a statement claiming he was “strongly considering” his future in the competition.
“I am really disappointed to hear that Australia have pulled out of the series to play us in March,” Khan tweeted on Thursday evening.
“I take great pride in representing my country and we have made great progress on the world stage. This decision from CA sets us back in that journey.
“If playing vs Afghanistan is so uncomfortable for Australia then I wouldn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable with my presence in the BBL.”
Afghanistan bowler Naveen-ul-Haq, who represented the Sydney Sixers this summer, also threatened to boycott the BBL following CA’s announcement.
Former Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib posted to Twitter: “I was not expecting a country like Australia to encourage the ICC to harm men’s cricket as well, so it was an irresponsible decision taken by Cricket Australia … don’t use sports like a tool for politicians.”
On Thursday evening, the ACB released an strongly-worded statement in response to CA’s “unfair and unexpected” withdrawal, accusing the organisation of “prioritising political interests over the principles of fair play and sportsmanship”.
“Cricket Australia’s decision to withdraw from upcoming matches against Afghanistan is coming after consultation and potential enforcement from the Australian Government which is an unfortunate attempt to enter the realm of politics and politicise the sport,” the ACB statement read.
“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 will affect the love and passion of the Afghan nation for the game.”
However, the ACB did not once mention women’s rights once in the 445-word statement, instead bragging they “discourage young people from getting involved in drugs”.
Since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in August 2021, many of Afghanistan’s female athletes have reportedly gone into hiding and received death threats.
During the Taliban’s oppressive regime from 1996 to 2001, women were completely banned from playing any sport or receiving education. Sports stadiums were regularly used for public executions.
Afghanistan remains the only ICC full member nation without a women’s team.
Australia was scheduled to play a Test match against Afghanistan in November 2021, but the historic fixture was ”postponed” following the Taliban invasion.
“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,” CA said in a statement.
“We thank the Australian Government for its support on this matter.”
Australia is scheduled to face Afghanistan in a three-match T20 series at a neutral venue in August 2024 before the Asian nation tours Australia in August 2026 for three T20Is and a Test match.
Afghanistan Cricket Board’s Full Statement
Afghanistan Cricket Board is extremely disappointed and saddened by the pathetic statement of Cricket Australia to withdraw from Afghanistan’s home three-match ODI series in March and will officially write to the International Cricket Council about the issue.
Cricket Australia’s decision to withdraw from upcoming matches against Afghanistan is coming after consultation and potential enforcement from the Australian Government which is an unfortunate attempt to enter the realm of politics and politicise the sport.
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 will affect the love and passion of the Afghan nation for the game.
The recent decision by Cricket Australia to withdraw from upcoming matches against Afghanistan has caused a great deal of concern within the Afghan cricket community. The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) is closely monitoring the situation and is considering taking action, including officially writing to ICC and rethinking the participation of Afghan players in the Big Bash League (BBL), if the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan’s home series is not overturned.
Cricket has played a significant role in promoting unity and national pride in Afghanistan. After years of war and conflict, cricket has helped to bring people together and provide a sense of normalcy to the country. It has also been an important source of hope and inspiration for all Afghans, particularly young people. In addition, Cricket has also been an important tool for promoting education and social development in the country.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has been working to promote cricket in schools and universities, and it has also been using the sport to promote healthy lifestyles and discourage young people from getting involved in drugs and crime. Cricket has been an important tool for promoting peace, unity, and development in Afghanistan, and it will continue to be a source of inspiration and hope for the people of the country in the years to come.
Afghanistan’s three-match ODI series against Australia in March is considered to be Afghanistan’s sixth series in the ICC Cricket World Cup’s Super League, which is set to be hosted by Afghanistan in UAE and the ACB has already settled all the required logistical arrangements.
Afghanistan Cricket Board has always been responsive and expressed its willingness to work together with Cricket Australia and other member boards including stakeholders; to find a solution that supports the development of the game in Afghanistan.
Originally published as Afghanistan Cricket Board slams Cricket Australia’s ‘pathetic’ decision to withdraw from ODI series