Australia withdraws from Afghanistan series due to Taliban’s stance on women and girls

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Cricket Australia has withdrawn their men’s team from a scheduled three-match ODI series against Afghanistan to be played in the UAE in March following consultation with the Australian government.

Australia were scheduled to play Afghanistan as part of the ICC Super League following the tour of India. But CA released a statement on Thursday stating that it had withdrawn from the series following a recent announcement from the Taliban that it was banning university education for girls, which ICC CEO Geoff Allardice described as concerning.

“Following extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the Australian Government, 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,” the CA statement said.

“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.

“We thank the Australian Government for its support on this matter.”

The ICC has also expressed its concern over the situation in Afghanistan. “We want to see men and women safely playing cricket in Afghanistan and have consistently held the view that the best way to achieve this is by supporting our Member, the Afghanistan Cricket Board, in its endeavours to develop the game in the country,” an ICC spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo.

“We are concerned by recent developments in Afghanistan and the ICC board will consider the implications of these developments at its next meeting and we remain in contact with other global sporting organisations who share our aim of seeing men and women playing sport in Afghanistan.”

This is the second time in two years CA has cancelled a bilateral fixture with Afghanistan due to the Taliban government’s policies on women following the postponement of the one-off Test that was scheduled to be played in Hobart in November 2021.

Australia did play Afghanistan in Adelaide during the recent T20 World Cup. The two sides have met four times in international cricket but never in a Test match and only once in a bilateral match in 2012, with the other three meetings coming in World Cups.

Australia are slated to meet Afghanistan twice more in the next Future Tours cycle with three T20Is scheduled for a neutral venue in August 2024 and Afghanistan due to tour Australia in August 2026 to play one Test and three T20Is. (ESPNcricinfo)

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