Afghanistan Cricket Board expresses disappointment over Australia's decision to pull out of ODI series

Afghanistan Cricket Board expresses disappointment over Australia's decision to pull out of ODI series
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Kabul, Afghanistan: Afghanistan Cricket fraternity reacted strongly to Cricket Australia's decision of withdrawing from the three-match ODI series between the both the sides in UAE which was set to take place in March 2023, with the country's governing body of the sport expressing that it "is extremely disappointed and saddened by the pathetic statement" made by CA and it will write to International Cricket Council (ICC) regarding the issue.

Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday announced that Australia's men's ODI series against Afghanistan in the UAE in March will not go ahead and that the board will "continue to engage with the Afghanistan Cricket Board in anticipation of improved conditions for women and girls in the country."

"Afghanistan Cricket Board is extremely disappointed and saddened by the pathetic statement of Cricket Australia to withdraw from Afghanistan's home three-match ODI series in March and will officially write to the International Cricket Council about the issue," said a statement from Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) on Thursday.

"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 politicize the sport. By prioritizing 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 recent decision by Cricket Australia to withdraw from upcoming matches against Afghanistan has caused a great deal of concern within the Afghan cricket community. The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) is closely monitoring the situation and is considering taking action, including officially writing to ICC and rethinking the participation of Afghan players in the Big Bash League (BBL), if the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan's home series is not overturned," ACB concluded its point.

ACB said that Cricket has played a significant role in promoting unity and national pride in Afghanistan. After years of war and conflict, cricket has helped to bring people together and provide a sense of normalcy to the country. It has also been an important source of hope and inspiration for all Afghans, particularly young people. In addition, Cricket has also been an important tool for promoting education and social development in the country."

"The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has been working to promote cricket in schools and universities, and it has also been using the sport to promote healthy lifestyles and discourage young people from getting involved in drugs and crime. Cricket has been an important tool for promoting peace, unity, and development in Afghanistan, and it will continue to be a source of inspiration and hope for the people of the country in the years to come," added the board in its statement.

"Afghanistan's three-match ODI series against Australia in March is considered to be Afghanistan's sixth series in the ICC Cricket World Cup's Super League, which is set to be hosted by Afghanistan in UAE and the ACB has already settled all the required logistical arrangements. Afghanistan Cricket Board has always been responsive and expressed its willingness to work together with Cricket Australia and other member boards including stakeholders; to find a solution that supports the development of the game in Afghanistan," concluded the statement from the board.

Some notable Afghanistan cricketers also expressed their disappointment at the decision of Cricket Australia.

Star spinner Rashid Khan took to Twitter to say, "Cricket! The only hope for the country. Keep politics out of it. @CricketAus @BBL @ACBofficials."

In the statement shared, Rashid also said that he would also consider his future in the Big Bash League (BBL), Australia's top T20 competition, where he represents Adelaide Strikers. 

Young wicketkeeper-batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz also condemned CA's decision, urging that cricket and politics should not be mixed.

"Just read the news of Australia not playing the series against us. We should never mix politics with cricket & We are expecting the world to support Afg in this difficult situation rather then taking away the only one happiness we have. This is shocking & unacceptable act of CA," tweeted Gurbaz.

Naveen ul Haq Murid was another Afghanistan cricketer who condemned the decision and announced that he would not take part in BBL.

"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 off being supportive you want to take the only reason of happiness from them #CA," tweeted Naveen.

Batter Najib Zadran also tweeted, "I was not expecting a country like Australia Really shocked & suprised by the decision of @CricketAus Sports & politics are 2 different things & sports definitely should not be suffered due to politics. but at the end of the day politics win @ACBofficials @MirwaisAshraf16."

Batter Ibrahim Zadran also termed the decision by Cricket Australia as "unacceptable".

"This is just not acceptable by any means as cricket is the only way of happiness for millions of my countrymen," tweeted Ibrahim.

CA announced on Thursday that it would withdraw from the three-match series after consulting with a number of stakeholders, including the Australian government.

CA's decision comes after the Taliban imposed new restrictions on the education and employment of women and girls.

CA explained that the decision was made in response to the Taliban's recent announcement regarding additional restrictions on women and girls' education and employment.

The Taliban took control of the Asian country in September 2021 and immediately imposed restrictions on female sports participation, which CA condemned.

Afghanistan is the only ICC full-member nation that does not have a women's team, and will be the only full member without a team at the inaugural Women's U19 T20 World Cup, which begins on Saturday.

"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. We thank the Australian Government for its support on this matter," the CA statement read.

ICC CEO Geoff Allardice has said recent developments in Afghanistan were "concerning", and confirmed the issue would be raised at its next meeting.

"Our board has been monitoring progress since the change of regime," Allardice said.

"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 further added.

Australia will be playing three ODIs (from March 17-22) in India following the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy.