Australia pull out of ODI series against Afghanistan amid Taliban’s growing restrictions on women and girls

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Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday (January 12) claimed that amid Taliban’s growing restrictions on women and girls, it is “unable to proceed” with the fixture.

Why Australia won’t play ODI series with Afghanistan?

The three-match series between Australia and Afghanistan – which was part of the ICC Super League in UAE – was following their tour of India. However, after “extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the Australian Government”, the CA decided to abandon the fixture.

“Cricket Australia has decided that it is unable to proceed at this time with the upcoming ICC Super League three-match Men’s ODI series between Australia and Afghanistan scheduled for the UAE in March 2023,” CA said in a statement.

CA decision against Taliban government

“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.

“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,” it added.

Women banned from attending university in Afghanistan

Since seizing back control of the war-torn country in August 2021, the Taliban have steadily restricted women’s rights – despite promising their rule this time would be softer than the regime seen in the 1990s.

Women were banned from attending university and working for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) last month. 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 (January 14).

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afghanistan cricket team

ICC CEO Geoff Allardice has also expressed concern over Afghanistan’s lack of commitment towards women’s cricket, saying the sport’s global governing body will discuss the matter at its next board meeting.

“Obviously, the recent developments in Afghanistan are concerning,” 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.”

Australia to forfeit 30 points

By withdrawing from the March fixture, Australia will forfeit 30 competition points which will be awarded to Afghanistan. However, the points will be of little importance as Australia have already qualified for the ODI World Cup later this year in India.

This is not the first time CA has taken a strong stance against Taliban-ruled Afghanistan due to its policies against women. Australia had indefinitely postponed the one-off Test against the South Asian nation slated to be played in Hobart in November 2021.

The two teams are scheduled to meet twice more in the next couple of years with three T20Is scheduled for a neutral venue in August 2024, followed by Afghanistan’s tour of Australia in August 2026 for one Test and three T20Is.

(With PTI inputs)

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