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No bilateral cricket with Afghanistan, reiterates CA chief

Cricket Australia (CA) has reiterated its stance that Australia will not engage in bilateral cricket series with Afghanistan due to concerns over the Taliban government’s policies on women’s rights.

CA’s chief executive, Nick Hockley, emphasized that there have been ongoing discussions with the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) regarding this issue. He expressed hope for future resumption of bilateral matches between the two sides.

Australia has previously postponed three bilateral series with Afghanistan, citing significant deterioration in human rights for women and girls. Despite this stance, they continue to compete against Afghanistan in ICC events. Following Afghanistan’s notable victory over Australia in the recent T20 World Cup, there have been criticisms regarding CA’s position, which some have deemed inconsistent.

Hockley addressed the matter during an online media session, stating, “We have consulted extensively with stakeholders, including the Australian government, and based on human rights grounds, we have chosen to postpone our recent bilateral series with the Afghanistan Cricket Board. We maintain regular communication with them and aspire to see cricket flourish globally, inclusive of both men’s and women’s cricket. Our aim is to make progress and we remain in dialogue with the Afghanistan Cricket Board with the intention to resume bilateral cricket at a future date.”

Recently, 17 Afghanistan women players, who were contracted by the ACB before the Taliban takeover in 2020, appealed to the ICC to assist in establishing a refugee team based in Australia. They wish to operate under the East Asian Cricket office in Australia rather than under the ACB, due to ongoing concerns.

Hockley commented on this development, stating, “We are aware that the Afghan women cricketers in Australia have reached out to the ICC. This is a matter for the ICC to address. The upcoming meetings in Colombo will likely discuss this issue. These players are receiving tremendous support from the cricketing community in Australia, although Cricket Australia itself is not directly involved in their initiative.”

In addition to cricket, exiled Afghanistan women footballers resettled in Melbourne are receiving support from Melbourne Victory, enabling them to participate in Football Victoria’s third division and the Hope Cup, pending official recognition from FIFA.

When asked about integrating Afghanistan women cricketers into Australia’s club cricket system, Hockley noted, “Several of these players are already involved in local clubs, benefiting from the welcoming support of the community. Joining cricket clubs is a positive way for them to integrate and build relationships in their new environment.”

Looking ahead, Hockley expressed optimism about hosting Bangladesh’s men’s team in Australia during the upcoming Future Tours Programme (FTP) cycle. He acknowledged the positive experience of Australia’s recent women’s tour to Bangladesh and looks forward to reciprocating the hospitality.

“While a men’s tour is not currently scheduled in the immediate FTP cycle, we will continue discussions with the Bangladesh Cricket Board to explore future opportunities,” Hockley concluded.

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