Cricket Australia (CA) has announced that it will not be proceeding with the upcoming One-Day International (ODI) series against Afghanistan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in March.
The decision was made after consulting with various stakeholders, including the Australian government, following the Taliban’s recent announcement of further restrictions on women and girls’ education and employment in Afghanistan.
In a statement, CA expressed its commitment to supporting the growth of cricket for men and women around the world, including in Afghanistan.
The organization also stated that it will continue to engage with the Afghanistan Cricket Board in the hope of improved conditions for women and girls in the country.
The statement also thanked the Australian government for their support in this matter.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has also expressed concern over the recent developments in Afghanistan, with ICC CEO Geoff Allardice stating that the issue will be raised at the next ICC meeting in March.
Afghanistan is currently the only ICC full member nation without a women’s cricket team and will also be the only full member nation without a side at the inaugural Women’s U19 T20 World Cup.
As a result of the withdrawal, Australia will forfeit the series and the 30 competition points will be awarded to Afghanistan.
However, this is not a major concern for the Australian team as they have already secured automatic qualification to the ODI World Cup in India in October by being one of the top eight ranked nations in the ICC ODI Super League.
However, this decision has not gone down well with Afghan spinner, Rashid Khan, who is currently playing in the Big Bash League.
Rashid Khan has threatened to quit playing in the BBL, highlighting Afghanistan’s furious response after Australia’s decision to cancel a men’s ODI series against them.
Rashid, one of the world’s pre-eminent white-ball players who has starred for the Adelaide Strikers, said that he was “strongly considering” his future in the Australian T20 league over the issue.
“I am really disappointed to hear that Australia have pulled out of the series to play us in March,” Rashid said in his statement.
“I take great pride in representing my country, and we have made great progress on the world stage.
“This decision from CA sets us back in that journey.
“If playing vs Afghanistan is so uncomfortable for Australia, then I wouldn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable with my presence in the BBL. Therefore, I will be strongly considering my future in that competition.”
The series against Afghanistan was to be Australia’s last in the ODI Super League, but they will still play several more ODI’s before the World Cup in India, South Africa, and India, none of which will impact their World Cup qualification.
They will play three ODIs (from March 17-22) in India following the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy, five in South Africa in August and September, and three more in India immediately preceding the World Cup in October.