Afghans condemn Australia’s boycott of men’s cricket team | Cricket news
“Cricket! The only hope for the country. Keep politics out of it,” tweeted Afghanistan’s most famous cricketer Rashid Khan after Australia withdrew from the expected One-Day International (ODI) series against the South Asian nation held in March.
Khan, the face of Afghan cricket and captain of the country’s T20 team, was not alone. Soon after came a chorus of criticism, including other cricketers, expressing their disapproval of Australia’s decision to boycott the Afghan men’s team.
“I am very disappointed to hear that Australia have withdrawn from the series to play us in March. I am proud to represent my country and we have made great progress on the world stage,” Khan said in a statement on Thursday.
“This decision is from CA [Cricket Australia] puts us back on that journey,” he said.
Mohammad Nabi, the former captain of the Afghanistan cricket team, also criticized the cancellation of the series played in Dubai.
“We will make sport and politics separate,” he said, adding that Afghan cricketers are good role models and proud ambassadors of the cricketing fraternity.
Afghan fast bowler Naveen ul Haq Murid called the series cancellation “consequential” and accused Australia of taking away the Afghans’ only reason to be happy instead of being supportive. Afghans used #StopPoliticsinCricket to express their views, with some welcoming Australia’s decision.
The Australian cricket board said its decision was taken in light of the recent Taliban announcement to restrict women’s freedom. Last month, Taliban rulers banned women from university and banned them from working in NGOs. Women are also prevented from attending school beyond the sixth form and from working most jobs outside the home.
Just read the news about Australia not playing the series against us. We should never mix politics with cricket & We expect the world to support Afg in this difficult situation rather than taking away our only joy. This is a horrible and unacceptable act of CA
– Rahmanullah Gurbaz (@RGurbaz_21) January 12, 2023
The Australian government has supported the Board’s decision.
The Taliban have so far not issued a statement, but former President Hamid Karzai expressed his disappointment.
“I am disappointed to see the Cricket Australia board make this decision [e]especially given the challenges facing the Afghan people. We are still extremely proud of our National Cricket team and all our young sports representatives,” he said fall.
Cricket enjoys widespread support in a country torn by decades of war and occupation. People, including cricketers, pointed out that the sport has brought smiles to the faces of Afghans amid violence and chaos. The Taliban returned to power in August 2021, when the US-led foreign forces withdrew from the country after 20 years.
Australia gave similar reasons for canceling a one-off Test match against Afghanistan in Hobart, Australia, in November 2021.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board said it was saddened by the “pathetic” decision made by Cricket Australia. They promised to speak to the International Cricket Council – the sport’s highest governing body. The ICC has not commented on the matter yet.
He accused Cricket Australia of prioritizing political interests over fair play and sportsmanship, undermining the integrity of the game.
Will the Australians refuse to play Afghanistan in the World Cup this year .. they weren’t in the men’s T20 World Cup a few months ago!?????
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) January 13, 2023
“Cricket has played an important role in promoting unity and national pride in Afghanistan,” the board said.
“After years of war and conflict, cricket has helped to bring people together and give the country a sense of normalcy. It has also been an important source of hope and inspiration for all Afghans, especially young people. “
Khan, the Afghan cricketer, also threatened to pull out of Australia’s T20 Big Bash League. Khan plays for the Adelaide Strikers franchise.
“If playing against Afghanistan is so uncomfortable for Australia I wouldn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable with my presence in the BBL. Therefore, I will be strongly considering my future in that tournament.”
Australia defended its decision to pull out of a cricket series against Afghanistan on Friday.
“Basic human rights are not politics,” Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley said in a statement sent to AFP.
“It is clearly a very challenging and sad situation. We did not make this decision lightly,” said Hockley.
Cricket Australia had been hopeful of playing Afghanistan and was in regular contact with the Afghanistan Cricket Board, he said.
Oh how well the nation of Australia must sleep tonight knowing that they have been able to punish a great cricket team and a nation that loves cricket passionately for the policies of the #Taliban. Congratulations on your news #CricketAustralia and #ICCyou have joined him #Taliban in our frustration. https://t.co/btidk3ekSG
— Obaidullah Baheer (@ObaidullaBaheer) January 12, 2023
“However, as a result of announcements by the Taliban in late November and late December indicating a decline in basic human rights for women in Afghanistan, our decision to withdraw from these games came about,” he said.
“We acknowledge and applaud the views of Rashid Khan and other Afghan cricketers at the time criticizing the Taliban’s decision to ban women from universities. Rashid will always be welcome in the BBL,” Hockley said, referring to the Afghan cricketers’ public stance for women’s rights.
Australia was committed to growing the game for both women and men, the cricket boss said, adding that he hoped better conditions for women and girls in Afghanistan would allow cricket between the countries to resume. “in the not too distant future”.
But one of the women involved in the development of women’s cricket in Afghanistan told an Australian website, SBS News, that the boycott could lead to more countries canceling matches. If that happens, Tuba Sangar, Afghanistan’s former women’s cricket development manager, said Afghanistan could lose its ICC membership.
Sangar told SBS News that Afghanistan “didn’t get full membership [of the ICC] easy.”
Questioning the decision of the Australian board, Ben Gardner, managing editor of wisden.com, wrote that Australia played Afghanistan in last year’s T20 World Cup despite the Taliban’s ban on women’s cricket in September.
He pointed out that Afghanistan gained full ICC membership in 2017 despite the country not having a women’s team.
“What is this [boycott] That is what deprives Afghanistan cricketers of the platform from which they can speak out. Their cricket team is their greatest cultural export…,” Gardner wrote in the article.