Cricket: Australia call off Twenty20 series with Afghanistan over women's rights

Pat Cummins of Australia and Hashmatullah Shahidi of Afghanistan.
Pat Cummins of Australia and Hashmatullah Shahidi of Afghanistan. Photo credit: Getty Images

Cricket Australia have called off a Twenty20 series against Afghanistan, citing a deteriorating human rights situation for women and girls in the Taliban-ruled country.  

Australia withdrew from a one-day series scheduled for March last year in the United Arab Emirates after the Taliban imposed strict restrictions on Afghan women, including banning them from attending universities.  

The teams were scheduled to play three Twenty20 matches in the UAE in August this year, but Cricket Australia said that after consultations with the Australian government, it had decided to call off the series.   

"The government's advice is that conditions for women and girls in Afghanistan are getting worse," the cricket board said in a statement.  

"For this reason, we have maintained our previous position and will postpone the bilateral series against Afghanistan."  

The Afghanistan Cricket Board was not immediately available to comment but a spokesperson for the Taliban administration, which calls itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), defended the regime's human rights record.  

"Afghanistan is a country that has fully observed human rights," Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters.  

"This action of Australia isn't important to us. The IEA and Afghans are active in other fields of sports as well."  

Cricket Australia added that it would engage with its Afghan counterpart as well as the International Cricket Council to "determine what actions could be taken to support the resumption of bilateral matches in the future".   

Afghanistan's women's team were disbanded and several members fled the country after the country's Taliban takeover in 2021.  

Australia also cancelled a one-off test against Afghanistan in Hobart the same year.