Australia cancel Afghanistan ODI series over Taliban restrictions on women’s and girls’ rights

Australia cancel Afghanistan ODI series over Taliban restrictions on women’s and girls’ rights

Australia have pulled out of a three-match ODI series against Afghanistan over the Taliban’s restrictions on education for girls in the country.

Australia were due to meet Afghanistan in the United Arab Emirates in March, following their tour of India.

However, following talks with the Australian government, Cricket Australia announced this morning that they will play no part in the series, citing “the recent announcement by the Taliban of further restrictions on women’s and girls’ education”. Last month, the Taliban imposed an indefinite ban on university education for women.

CA also referenced a lack of employment opportunities for women and restrictions on their access to sports facilities such as parks and gyms.

It is the second time Australia have pulled out of a bilateral fixture with Afghanistan, having also cancelled a one-off Test in late 2021, soon after the Taliban re-took power following the US withdrawal.

“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,” a statement said.

Meanwhile, ICC CEO Geoff Allardice said the situation was a “concern” that would be discussed at the body’s next board meeting in March.

Afghanistan is the only full member nation not to have a functioning women’s team, despite that being a requirement of the status under ICC rules. Afghanistan’s men’s team has so far been allowed to continue competing in ICC events, including last year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.

“Obviously, the recent developments in Afghanistan are concerning,” Allardice said. “Our board has been monitoring progress since the change of regime. 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.”