Australia postpones landmark Afghanistan Test till Taliban stance on sports becomes clear

Nov 5, 2021: Cricket Australia (CA) on Friday confirmed that it has postponed the Afghanistan Test in Hobart on November 27 until the situation regarding women’s sports in the South Asian country becomes clear.

The CA said in September that it would call off the test if the Taliban government, which came to power in August, did not allow women and girls to play the game.

“After extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders, Cricket Australia and the Afghanistan Cricket Board have agreed to postpone the first men’s Test match against Afghanistan,” the CA said in a statement.

“The CA is committed to promoting women’s and men’s sports in Afghanistan and around the world. However, given the current uncertainty, the CA considered it necessary to postpone the Test match until further notice.”

Afghanistan’s extraordinary rise in cricket in recent years has been the game’s biggest story, but the conflict-torn country is in danger of isolation after the Taliban took over. Taliban officials have said they will not repeat the strict rule of their previous government, which banned the education of most girls and barred women from going to public places without a male guardian.

The Afghan Cricket Board has requested the cooperation of other full members of the International Cricket Council as it seeks to maintain its position in world cricket. Afghanistan’s status will be discussed at an ICC meeting on the sidelines of the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Despite the postponement of the test, the CA said it was looking forward to hosting Afghanistan’s players – who are “great ambassadors of the game” – in Australia’s upcoming Big T20 league. The board said it was also looking forward to hosting Afghanistan’s women’s and men’s teams. The CA had said in early September that it would cancel the test if media reports that women’s cricket would be banned in Afghanistan. The threat came after a report by the Australian broadcaster SBS quoted a Taliban spokesman as saying that cricket was “not necessary” for women.

Australian Sports Minister Richard Colbeck said at the time that the Taliban’s stance was “deeply troubling”. The Australian government canceled former President Robert Mugabe’s visit to Zimbabwe in 2007 in a crackdown on political opponents in the African country. Australia did not play South Africa from 1971 until the end of apartheid.

Australia’s Test team had planned to use Afghanistan’s match against England to prepare for the Ashes series starting in Brisbane on December 8. Instead, the Australians will play a three-day domestic match in Brisbane from December 1, almost two weeks after the squad was announced in mid-November.

The CA also published England’s warm-up arrangements, with Root’s team playing twice against the England Lions in Brisbane from November 23 to 25 and from November 30 to December. 3.

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