Cricket Australia Postpones Bilateral Series with Afghanistan over Human Rights Concerns

Cricket Australia (CA) has made the decision to postpone a bilateral men’s T20 cricket series against Afghanistan due to concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation for women and girls under Taliban rule in the country. This marks the third time CA has pulled the plug on games against Afghanistan outside of ICC tournament play.

The decision comes after Australia had previously cancelled a one-off Test match and a one-day international (ODI) series against Afghanistan for the same reason, but had expressed openness to future bilateral series contingent upon improved conditions for women and girls.

Australia’s concern over human rights violations led to the cancellation of a one-day international series planned for the United Arab Emirates in March 2023, with hopes for a three-match T20 series in August also dashed.

Despite ongoing engagement with the Afghanistan Cricket Board and the International Cricket Council, CA has maintained its stance, emphasizing its commitment to supporting the participation of women and girls in cricket globally.

The Afghan women’s cricket team has been sidelined from international tournaments since the Taliban regained control in August 2021, with several members seeking refuge abroad. Afghanistan remains the only ICC full member nation without a women’s team.

Criticism has emerged, with the Taliban accusing Australia of hypocrisy for engaging in cricket matches when it suits them while invoking concerns about women’s rights only when it benefits their interests. This sentiment was echoed by Afghan fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq, who took to social media to express frustration over the cancellation.

Despite the disappointment, both cricket fans and experts lamented CA’s decision on social media, with some questioning the inconsistency in Australia’s approach to playing against Afghanistan.

Looking ahead, the two countries could potentially meet in the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, raising the prospect of a face-off on the field amid ongoing diplomatic tensions.

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