Cricket Australia delays tour over Afghanistan women’s rights concerns

Cricket Australia has delayed a three-match men’s Twenty20 international series against Afghanistan set for August, citing worsening human rights conditions for women and girls in the Taliban-led nation.

The games, originally planned to be hosted by Afghanistan, were to be played in the United Arab Emirates, the Associated Press reports.

This postponement marks the third instance Cricket Australia has opted not to compete against the Afghan team since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in September 2021, which saw the imposition of restrictions on women’s rights to participate in sports, work, education, and travel.

Previously, Australia canceled a test match slated for Hobart in November 2021 and a three-match One-Day International (ODI) series scheduled for March last year.

The teams have competed in international tournaments, with Australia narrowly defeating Afghanistan during the 50-over World Cup in India, ultimately winning the championship last year.

Cricket Australia stated on Tuesday that, based on advice from the Australian government, the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan is deteriorating.

“Therefore, we have decided to maintain our previous stance and postpone the bilateral series against Afghanistan,” a Cricket Australia statement explained. “Cricket Australia remains deeply committed to promoting the participation of women and girls in cricket globally and intends to continue working with the International Cricket Council and the Afghanistan Cricket Board to explore potential measures that could facilitate the return of bilateral matches.”

Afghanistan remains the only International Cricket Council full member nation that does not have a women’s team.