Australia defended their hotly criticised decision to pull out of a cricket series against Afghanistan, saying they could not go ahead with the matches because of the Taliban’s crackdown on women’s rights.
Cricket Australia 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. pic.twitter.com/cgQ2p21X2Q
— Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) January 12, 2023
“Basic human rights is not politics,” CA chief executive Nick Hockley said in a statement on Friday. “It is clearly a very challenging and sad situation. We did not take this decision lightly,” he added.
Afghanistan’s cricket board lashed out at the cancelation. Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai also said he was “disappointed” in Cricket Australia’s decision.
Disappointed to see the #Australian Cricket board @CricketAus making this decision specially given the challenges the #Afghan people face. We remain incredibly proud of our National Cricket team and all our young sports representatives. pic.twitter.com/frBSfBM9OE
— Hamid Karzai (@KarzaiH) January 13, 2023
Australia and Afghanistan were scheduled to play three one day international (ODIs) cricket matches in the United Arab Emirates in March 2023, but Cricket Australia (CA) scrapped the series after consultations with “various stakeholders” including the Australian government.
“However, announcements by the Taliban in late November and late December, signalling the deterioration of basic human rights for women in Afghanistan, led to our decision to withdraw from these games,” Hockley said.
He added that the Australian cricket authority had consulted with the Australian government before deciding to scrap the upcoming series.
Cricket Australia had been hopeful of playing Afghanistan and remained in regular contact with the Afghanistan Cricket Board
Afghanistan’s best-known international cricketer, leg-spinner Rashid Khan, had criticised the cancellation, warning that he would be “strongly considering” his future in Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL).
Cricket! The only hope for the country.
Keep politics out of it. @CricketAus @BBL @ACBofficials ♥️ 🇦🇫 ♥️ pic.twitter.com/ZPpvOBetPJ
— Rashid Khan (@rashidkhan_19) January 12, 2023
“We acknowledge and applaud Rashid Khan’s and other Afghanistan cricketers’ comments at the time condemning the Taliban’s decision to ban women from universities. Rashid will always be welcome in the BBL,” Hockley responded.
“Australia was committed to growing the game for women and men,” the Cricket Australia chief said. He hoped better conditions for women and girls in Afghanistan will allow cricket between the two countries to resume “in the not too distant future”.
Australia boycotting the Afghan cricket series should be a wake-up call to our cricketers. Afghan sportsmen should have boycotted playing sports under the Taliban when the regime banned women from playing all sports. #allornone pic.twitter.com/IVP1a0aJ69
— Habib Khan (@HabibKhanT) January 13, 2023