Australia pulls out from Afghanistan ODI series, says Cricket Australia
Melbourne: Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday announced it has withdrawn from the upcoming ODI series against Afghanistan, saying it is "unable to proceed" with the fixture amid Taliban's growing restrictions on women and girls.
Australia were slated to take on Afghanistan in a three-match ODI series as part of the ICC Super League in UAE in March.
However, after "extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the Australian Government", the CA decided to abandon the fixture.
"Cricket Australia has decided that it is unable to proceed at this time with the upcoming ICC Super League three-match Men's ODI series between Australia and Afghanistan scheduled for the UAE in March 2023," CA said in a statement.
"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.
"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," it added.
Since seizing back control of the war-torn country in August 2021, the Taliban have steadily restricted women's rights - despite promising their rule this time would be softer than the regime seen in the 1990s.
Women were banned from attending university and working for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) last month.
Afghanistan is the only ICC full member nation without a womens team, and won't have a team at the inaugural Women's U19 T20 World Cup starting on Saturday.
By withdrawing from the fixture, Australia will forfeit 30 competition points which will be awarded to Afghanistan.
However, the points will be of little importance as Australia have already qualified for the ODI World Cup later this year in India.