Cricket Australia Thursday announced that it would not proceed with its one-day international mens series against Afghanistan set to take place in March, citing the Taliban’s recent announcement of further restrictions on women’s and girls’ education and employment opportunities. Cricket Australia explained that the decision came after “extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders,” including the Australian government. The Taliban’s escalating restrictions on women’s rights has drawn extensive global backlash in recent weeks and months, including joint condemnations of the respective bans on women in universities and the NGO sector which were co-signed by the Australian Foreign Minister.  Cricket Australia’s decision drew immediate backlash from the Afghanistan Cricket Board, which decried the statement as “pathetic” and threatened to officially write to the International Cricket Council about the matter. The AFC’s statement targeted the Australian government’s involvement in the Cricket Australia decision, which the AFC argued came “after consultation and potential enforcement from the Australian Government” and labelled “an unfortunate attempt to enter the realm of politics and politicize the sport.”The AFC stressed its role in promoting cricket in schools and universities as a positive influence on young peoples’ lives, but made no mention of their banning of women and girls from secondary schools, universities, and sports. Cricket Australia’s statement highlighted their commitment “to supporting growing the game for women and men around the world, including in Afghanistan,” and promised to “continue to engage with the Afghanistan Cricket Board in anticipation of improved conditions for women and girls in the country.”

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