Cricket Australia set to scrap Afghan Test over womens’ sport ban

The men’s cricket Test between Australia and Afghanistan is set to be scrapped after the Taliban declared a ban on women’s sport.

Sep 09, 2021, updated Sep 09, 2021
Former Australian cricket captain Tim Paine (AAP image).

Former Australian cricket captain Tim Paine (AAP image).

The first-ever Test between the nations was slated to begin on November 27 in Hobart, providing Tim Paine’s team a key Ashes tune-up.

But Cricket Australia (CA), under significant political pressure to act, has released a statement confirming it is ready to cancel the fixture.

“If recent media reports that women’s cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated, Cricket Australia would have no alternative but to not host Afghanistan for the proposed Test,” CA wrote.

“We thank the Australian and Tasmanian governments for their support on this important issue.

“Driving the growth of women’s cricket globally is incredibly important to Cricket Australia.

“Our vision for cricket is that it is a sport for all and we support the game unequivocally for women at every level.”

Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, told SBS on Wednesday women will be banned from playing sport.

“In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this,” Wasiq said.

Federal Sports Minister Richard Colbeck and federal MP Andrew Hastie, a former SAS troop commander who fought in Afghanistan, are among several politicians to express reservations about the Test.

Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein flagged his own concerns on Monday.

Organising a replacement match in the soon-to-be vacant spot on the calender will be easier said than done, especially with Australia’s border rules ensuring tourists might have to sign up for a fortnight of quarantine.

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley termed it an “extremely challenging and complex situation” on Wednesday, vowing to take the federal government and International Cricket Council’s lead.

The ICC holds the power to revoke Afghanistan’s member status, which would ensure the game doesn’t take place.

CA, which has invested more in women’s cricket than any other nation, has made its thoughts clear to the global governing body.

The ICC says it is concerned about reports the Taliban will ban women from playing cricket and the matter will be discussed at its next board meeting.

That meeting is set for November, so if the ICC does not expedite a discussion and vote then Afghanistan will start their Twenty20 World Cup campaign on October 25.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) had been in talks regarding a T20 tri-series involving Australia and West Indies in early October but Thursday’s development suggests Justin Langer’s team will be looking elsewhere for World Cup warm-up matches.

ICC rules dictate that full members must have a national women’s team.

Afghanistan are yet to play a women’s international game but there had been positive steps prior to the Taliban takeover, with the ACB handing out 25 contracts to female players in 2020.

Those players are believed to now be in hiding in Kabul, fearful about the Taliban’s return to power.

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