Cricket Australia (CA) announced on Thursday that the men’s national team has withdrawn from their scheduled one-day international (ODI) series against Afghanistan in March, citing further restrictions on women’s and girls’ rights imposed by the Taliban.
The series, which was set to take place in the United Arab Emirates, was scrapped after “extensive consultation” with stakeholders, including the Australian government. Afghanistan’s Taliban-led administration imposed a ban on women attending universities last month and banned girls from high school since March, as well as excluding them from parks and gyms.
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CA stated in a statement that they are “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.” They also thanked the Australian government for its support.
The series was part of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Super League, where the top eight teams automatically qualify for the 2023 World Cup. Australia have already qualified for the tournament.
A test match between the two countries scheduled for November 2021 was also postponed after the Taliban seized power in August of that year.
Afghanistan remains the only ICC full-member nation without a women’s team. ICC CEO Geoff Allardice has said that the lack of commitment to women’s cricket in Afghanistan is a concern for the governing body and will be discussed at their next board meeting in March.
“Our board has been monitoring progress since the change of regime,” Allardice said. “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.”