Press Trust of india

Australia pulls out from Afghanistan ODI series

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Melbourne: Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday announced it has withdrawn from the upcoming ODI series against Afghanistan, saying it is “unable to proceed” with the fixture amid Taliban’s growing restrictions on women and girls.

Australia were slated to take on Afghanistan in a three-match ODI series as part of the ICC Super League in UAE in March.

However, after “extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the Australian Government”, the CA decided to abandon the fixture.

“Cricket Australia has decided that it is unable to proceed at this time with the upcoming ICC Super League three-match Men’s ODI series between Australia and Afghanistan scheduled for the UAE in March 2023,” CA said in a statement.

“This decision follows the recent announcement by the Taliban of further restrictions on women’s and girls’ education and employment opportunities and their ability to access parks and gyms.

“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,” it added.

Since seizing back control of the war-torn country in August 2021, the Taliban have steadily restricted women’s rights – despite promising their rule this time would be softer than the regime seen in the 1990s.

Women were banned from attending university and working for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) last month.

Afghanistan is the only ICC full member nation without a women‘s team, and won’t have a team at the inaugural Women’s U19 T20 World Cup starting on Saturday.

By withdrawing from the fixture, Australia will forfeit 30 competition points which will be awarded to Afghanistan.

However, the points will be of little importance as Australia have already qualified for the ODI World Cup later this year in India.

Afghanistan cricket slams Australia for canceling ODIs

Kabul: Afghanistan cricket officials blasted Australia’s decision on Thursday to cancel their men’s one-day international cricket series.

Cricket Australia cited recent heavier restrictions on women’s rights in Afghanistan by the Taliban government for axing the three ODIs in March in the United Arab Emirates.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board said it was “extremely disappointed and saddened by the pathetic statement” from Cricket Australia and it would complain to the International Cricket Council.

It accused CA of prioritizing political interests over fair play and sportsmanship, undermining the integrity of the game, and damaging the relationship between the two countries.

“Cricket has played a significant role in promoting unity and national pride in Afghanistan,” the board said. “After years of war and conflict, cricket has helped to bring people together and provide a sense of normalcy to the country. It has also been an important source of hope and inspiration for all Afghans, particularly young people.”

It said it would rethink the participation of Afghan players in the Big Bash League if the decision was not reversed.

Afghan fast bowler Naveen ul Haq Murid called scrapping the series “childish” and accused Australia of taking away Afghans’ only reason for happiness instead of being supportive.(AP)

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