Cricket Australia (CA) announced on Thursday that the men’s cricket team of Australia will not be participating in their scheduled matches against Afghanistan. This decision was made as a form of protest against the Taliban’s policies that restrict education and employment opportunities for women and girls.
According to the statement, the teams were originally planned to compete in three One Day International (ODI) matches in the United Arab Emirates in March. However, after thorough discussion with various stakeholders, including the Australian government, CA ultimately decided to cancel the series.
“CA is dedicated to the advancement and expansion of cricket for both women and men globally, including in Afghanistan. The organization will remain in communication with the Afghanistan Cricket Board with hopes for better opportunities for women and girls in the country.”
In December, the Taliban declared that all female students would no longer be allowed to attend university. This came after a previous decision in March to prevent girls from going back to secondary schools, following extended closures since the fundamentalist group seized control of Afghanistan in August 2021.
In the following month, the Taliban instructed both local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to prohibit female employees from reporting to work. Failure to comply would lead to the withdrawal of their licenses.
The ACB reacted to CA’s announcement on Thursday, labeling it as “disappointing” and “an effort to involve politics and politicize the game.”
The statement stated that Cricket Australia’s prioritization of political agendas over fair play and sportsmanship is jeopardizing the integrity of the sport and harming the relationship between the two countries.
The choice to pull out of the upcoming ODI series with Afghanistan is unjust and surprising and will detrimentally impact the progress and advancement of cricket in Afghanistan, as well as diminish the Afghan people’s love and enthusiasm for the sport.
The ACB announced that it was evaluating potential courses of action regarding the issue, which may include communicating with the International Cricket Council (ICC) and reassessing the involvement of Afghan players in Australia’s domestic Twenty20 tournament, the Big Bash League (BBL).
The statement from ACB came after remarks made by well-known Afghan athlete Rashid Khan.
Khan, a player for the Adelaide Strikers in this year’s BBL, shared a statement on Twitter emphasizing, “Let’s avoid bringing politics into this.”
Khan expressed his disappointment upon learning that Australia has withdrawn from the series scheduled for March against our team.
I am honored to represent my country and we have achieved significant advancements on the global platform. However, this decision from CA sets us back on our path.
“If the prospect of competing against Afghanistan is causing discomfort for Australia, I do not wish to further contribute to any discomfort in the BBL. As a result, I will be seriously contemplating my participation in the league in the future.”
Earlier, Cricket Australia had withdrawn from a planned Test match against Afghanistan that was supposed to take place in Tasmania in November 2021. This decision was made in response to the Taliban’s restriction on women’s involvement in sports.
Cricket Australia emphasized the significance of promoting the development of women’s cricket on a global scale. Their ultimate goal is to make cricket a sport that is inclusive for all individuals, and they fully endorse and encourage women’s participation at every stage of the game. This statement was made by CA previously.
On Thursday, Anika Wells, Australia’s sports minister, stated that Canberra is in favor of Cricket Australia’s decision.
“The decision made by Cricket Australia to withdraw from the upcoming men’s One Day International series against Afghanistan has been acknowledged and supported by the Australian government. This move comes in response to the Taliban’s heightened oppression of women and girls’ rights.” The tweet was posted by a government representative.
Despite the Taliban’s promises to safeguard the rights of girls and women, they have instead taken away the progress and liberties that women have worked tirelessly for in the last 20 years.
Several prominent foreign aid organizations, along with the United Nations, have announced a temporary halt to their activities in Afghanistan due to the recent ban on female employees working for non-governmental organizations.