The first-ever Test match between Australia men’s and Afghanistan seems to be called off after Afghanistan’s newly-installed Taliban government has announced its objection over women from its country playing cricket.
Cricket Australia (CA) issued a statement on Thursday stating that it would be unable to proceed with the planned Test at Hobart from November 27 if news reports of Taliban views on the women’s game were true.
“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,” CA said.
“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 Match due to be played in Hobart,” it added.
Recently, a spokesman for the Taliban government’s cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, had told Australian broadcaster SBS News that cricket was not permitted for women under Islamic law.
“Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed. 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,” ,” Wasiq had said.
He had further said that their stand on the women’s game would not change even if it leads to cancellation of the scheduled Hobart Test against Australia.
“Even for this, if we face challenges and problems, we have fought for our religion so that Islam is to be followed. We will not cross Islamic values even if it carries opposite reactions. We will not leave our Islamic rules,” he had said.
Following such comment, Australia’s Federal Sports Minister Senator Richard Colbeck has now urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to take a stand against the Taliban’s position and take a decision on Afghanistan’s full membership.
Speaking with ABC Radio on Thursday, Colbeck said that no decision had been made on whether visas would be issued to Afghanistan men’s team.
“The Taliban’s attitudes towards women and their individual rights should not be accepted by the international sporting community,” he said.
“Excluding women from the 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,” Colbeck added.
In a statement released on Wednesday night, the ICC had expressed concern over Taliban’s stand on women’s cricket.
“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,” it added.
Notably, suspension of a member nation’s Test status requires a two-thirds majority vote of the ICC’s 17-member board.