Oz to cancel Afghanistan men’s Test if women’s cricket not supported

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A historic maiden men’s test between Australia and Afghanistan will be cancelled if the new Taliban government does not support women playing cricket in Afghanistan.

In a statement released today, Cricket Australia confirmed it would not proceed with the planned Test at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena from November 27 if news reports of Taliban views on the women’s game were true.

Spokesman for the for the Taliban government’s cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, yesterday told Australian broadcaster SBS News that sport is not seen as something that is important for women.

“Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed,” Wasiq said.

“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.

“It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it.”

Despite the Taliban’s previously stated support for the Afghanistan men’s team in international cricket, Wasiq said their stance on the women’s game would not change even if it jeopardised the historic maiden Test against Australia in Hobart.

“We have fought for our religion so that Islam is to be followed,” he told SBS.

“We will not cross Islamic values even if it carries opposite reactions. We will not leave our Islamic rules.”

Reacting to these comments, Australia’s Federal Sports Minister Senator Richard Colbeck urged the International Cricket Council to take a stand against the Taliban’s position.

In speaking with ABC Radio this morning, Senator Colbeck said no decision had been made on whether visas would be granted to members of the Afghanistan men’s team if the scheduled Test in Hobart went ahead.

“The Taliban’s attitudes towards women and their individual rights should not be accepted by the international sporting community,” he said.

“Excluding women from sport at any level is unacceptable.

“We urge international sport authorities, including the International Cricket Council, to take a stand against this appalling ruling.

“At the end of the day, International Cricket is controlled by the ICC and it’s not just about this Test match.

“The ICC is going to have to make a decision about Afghanistan’s membership.”

In a statement released last night, the International Cricket Council (ICC) expressed concern with the latest comments from the Taliban regime and shelved the discussion until the next ICC board meeting which is scheduled for November, after the T20 World Cup.

This would ensure the Afghanistan men’s team’s involvement in the T20 tournament in the UAE and Oman, but in order to hold full-member status ICC status nations must field both men’s and women’s teams.

“The ICC is committed to the long-term growth of women’s cricket and despite the cultural and religious challenges in Afghanistan, steady progress has been made in this area since Afghanistan’s admission as a Full Member in 2017,” the ICC statement said.

“The ICC has been monitoring the changing situation in Afghanistan and is concerned to note recent media reports that women will no longer be allowed to play cricket.”

A two-thirds majority vote of the ICC’s 17-member board is required to suspend a member nation’s Test status.

Afghanistan’s women’s team is yet to compete in an ICC-sanctioned match despite an initial squad being formed in 2010 before being disbanded several years later due to safety concerns.

When Afghanistan was granted men’s Test status in 2017 the ICC granted them dispensation in regards to fielding a women’s team provided they committed to growing the game for women and girls, according to Cricket.com.

The women’s team had been preparing for their first formal match, against Oman, in coming months but Afghanistan Cricket Board Chief Executive Hamid Shinwari recently acknowledged the outlook for women’s cricket in his country was grim.

“I think it will be stopped, that is my assumption,” Shinwari told the BBC.

“I really don’t know what will be the position in the future.

“We have kept the salaries and they (women’s players) are on our payroll.

“If the government decides that we don’t go with the national women’s team, we will have to stop.”

READ ALSO: Ind v Aus women’s cricket: same team, new mindset

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