Afghanistan blast Cricket Australia’s ‘pathetic’ ODI series withdrawal as Rashid Khan considers Big Bash League future | Cricket News

Afghanistan’s cricket board has described Cricket Australia’s decision to withdraw from the upcoming series between the teams as “pathetic”, adding that it will complain to the International Cricket Council.

Earlier on Thursday, Cricket Australia released a statement saying it has pulled out of the ODI series which was due to take place in March in the United Arab Emirates.

It said it had taken the decision after “extensive consultation” with the Australian government and in the wake of the Taliban, who have been in control of Afghanistan since August 2021, placing further restrictions on women’s and girl’s right to education.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board has since responded, saying it is “disappointed and saddened by the pathetic statement of Cricket Australia”.

“Cricket Australia’s decision to withdraw from upcoming matches against Afghanistan is coming after consultation and potential enforcement from the Australian Government, which is an unfortunate attempt to enter the realm of politics and politicise the sport,” it said.

“By prioritising political interests over the principles of fair play and sportsmanship, Cricket Australia is undermining the integrity of the game and damaging the relationship between the two nations.

“The decision to withdraw from playing the upcoming ODI series against Afghanistan is unfair and unexpected and will have a negative impact on the development and growth of cricket in Afghanistan as well as will affect the love and passion of the Afghan nation for the game.”

The statement added that the governing body will write to the ICC, cricket’s worldwide governing body, and is “rethinking” the participation of Afghan players in Australia’s Big Bash League, with Naveen-ul-Haq already announcing his withdrawal from the franchise league.

Afghanistan’s most high-profile player and captain of their T20 side, Rashid Khan, also said he would consider leaving his contract with the BBL’s Adelaide Strikers.

“I am really disappointed to hear that Australia have pulled out of the series to play us in March,” he said. “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.”

Australia and Afghanistan were scheduled to play three ODIs as part of the ICC’s Super League, whose top eight teams qualify automatically for the 50-over World Cup, which is being held in India later this year.

The teams recently played each other in Adelaide during the T20 World Cup

Cricket Australia is ‘committed to supporting and growing the game for women’

Justifying its decision to withdraw from the series, Cricket Australia condemned the decision to ban women from universities, a policy which was announced by the Taliban in November 2022.

“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,” Cricket Australia said in a statement.

“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.”

Naveen-ul-Haq also criticised the decision, writing on Twitter: “Time to say won’t be participating in big bash after this until they stop these childish decisions that’s how they went about the one-off test now ODI when a country is going through so much in place of being supportive you want to take the only reason of happiness from them.”

The teams were meant to face each other in November 2021 in a Test match, but the fixture was postponed after the Taliban seized power in August.

Afghanistan have continued to appear at ICC events since the Taliban takeover and faced Australia during the T20 World Cup last year, losing by four runs.

The Taliban have been in power in Afghanistan since the withdrawal of western troops in the country in 2021, and the rights of women and girls have been gradually eroded.

ICC concerned over women’s game in Afghanistan

Afghanistan remain the only full ICC member nation without a women’s team and, in December, a ban on female students attending university was announced.

The ruling came almost 10 months after girls were banned from high school in March, and they have also been excluded from parks and gyms.

Rashid recently criticised the education ban, calling for it to be reversed.

In a post on Instagram, he wrote: “Today we stand in solidarity with our sisters and daughters of #Afghanistan in demanding that the decision on high school ban for girls and university ban for women be reversed. Every day of education wasted is a day wasted from the future of the country. #LetAfghanGirlsLearn”

A letter, confirmed by a spokesperson for the higher education ministry, instructed Afghan public and private universities to suspend access to female students until further notice in accordance with a cabinet decision.

The announcement prompted widespread condemnation from countries across the world amid growing concerns within the international community, which has not officially recognised the de facto administration.

ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice has said Afghanistan’s lack of commitment to women’s cricket is a concern for the sport’s global governing body and that the matter will be discussed at its next board meeting.

“Our board has been monitoring progress since the change of regime. It is a concern that progress is not being made in Afghanistan and it’s something our board will consider at its next meeting in March. As far as we are aware, there isn’t activity at the moment,” he said.

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