Afghans Decry Cancellation of Cricket Series by Australia

Afghanistan’s cricket board and top players have criticized a decision by Cricket Australia to cancel a planned series with the Afghan team.

Cricket Australia on Thursday announced it was pulling out of the one-day international (ODI) series with Afghanistan, which was scheduled to take place in the United Arab Emirates in March, because of the Taliban’s policies against women.

The announcement prompted criticism throughout Afghanistan’s cricket community.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board “is extremely disappointed by the pathetic decision” of Cricket Australia, the Afghan group tweeted.

“I am really disappointed to hear that Australia have pulled out of the series to play us in March,” said Rashid Khan, an Afghan cricket star who currently plays in commercial games in Australia, echoing the sentiment of many fans.

“Fans and people of Afghanistan who have suffered immensely due to conflict for the past 42 years don’t want politics brought into sports,” Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afghan ODI and Test captain, tweeted. “Cricket is the most loved sport in the country and one of the main sources of happiness.”

Managed by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the ODI series steers the path for national teams to qualify for the Cricket World Cup games. The ICC has not yet reacted to Cricket Australia’s decision and whether it could impact Afghanistan’s ability to qualify for the upcoming Cricket World Cup in India.

Afghanistan is the only ICC member country with no female team, which has annoyed the international cricket body.

“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,” said ICC’s chief executive, Geoff Allardice.

Since taking power in August 2021, the Taliban have disbanded women’s sports teams and imposed serious restrictions on women’s education and work.

The Islamist regime has been widely condemned for its misogynistic policies — even by fellow Muslim-majority nations — while Taliban officials say their policies are based on Islamic law.

Some information in this report came from Reuters. 

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