Image: PTI/ AP/ Afghanistan Cricket Board
Australia and Afghanistan's men's team were scheduled to face each other in their maiden Test at Hobart's Blundstone Arena from November 27 however, based on reports, Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed that it will be called off. Earlier reports had emerged about the Taliban banning women cricket under the new government. The Australian Test team captain Tim Paine has backed Cricket Australia's decision and added that the silence from the International Cricket Council (ICC) is "fascinating". He also added that he can't see the Afghanistan national team part in the upcoming T20 World Cup which is scheduled for next month. "I don't think we want to be associated with countries that are taking opportunities or things off literally half their population," Paine said on his SEN radio show. "It's sad."
"We've heard nothing from the ICC, which is fascinating given there is a T20 World Cup in just over a month's time. I'd imagine it's impossible (for Afghanistan to take part) if teams are pulling out of playing against them and governments are not letting them travel to our shores. How a team like that can be allowed to play in an ICC-sanctioned event is going to be very, very hard to see."
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) was all set to launch its first women's national team but the plans took a backseat after the Taliban's recent statement on women in sports. According to the report by Espncricinfo, several Australian politicians said that the Test match would not be able to go ahead with such restrictions in women's cricket. Cricket Australia in its statement said that the growth of women's cricket across the world is crucial to CA and that their vision for cricket is that it is a sport for all and they support the game "unequivocally" for women at every level. They said that if recent media reports that women's cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated, CA would have no alternative but to not host Afghanistan for the proposed Test Match due to be played in Hobart.
The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) also endorsed CA's stance. The ACA said that the current situation in Afghanistan is a human rights issue that "transcends" the game of cricket and while they love to see players like Rashid Khan play against Australia, hosting the Test Match cannot be considered if that same opportunity to play the game is denied to the women.
The Guardian in its recent report has stated that the deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq in an interview with the Australian broadcaster SBS, said women’s sport was considered neither appropriate nor necessary. He said, "I don't think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket."