Australia withdraw from Afghanistan series following Taliban restrictions

Cricket Australia revealed the cancellation of their series against Afghanistan following further restrictions on the rights of women by the ruling Taliban.

Reuters reports that the Taliban-led nation further clamped down on women last month, banning them from attending universities. Since March 2022, girls have not been allowed to enroll in high school.

Australia was set to play three ODIs in the United Arab Emirates against an Afghanistan team that has limited opportunities on the global stage.

"Following extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the Australian Government, 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," said the CA on Thursday.

"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.

"We thank the Australian Government for its support on this matter."

As a result of Australia's withdrawal, the 30 ICC ODI Super League points on offer will be awarded to Afghanistan. It's of little consequence for Australia, who have secured automatic qualification to the ODI World Cup in October by being ranked firmly in the top eight.

Meanwhile, ICC CEO Geoff Allardice has said the board were concerned about developments in Afghanistan, who remains the only full ICC member without a women's team.

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

"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."

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