Cricket Australia defends decision to abort Afghanistan series

Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley has defended CA’s decision to withdraw from the series against Afghanistan, declaring “basic human rights is not politics” amid a flurry of backlash from players.

Hockley declared superstar spinner and Afghanistan T20 captain Rashid Khan was “always welcome in the BBL” given his historical stance against the ruling Taliban’s treatment of women’s right despite lashing CA for abandoning the ODI series in March.

Khan was one of a number of players who threatened not to return to the BBL, a threat also issued by the Afghanistan Cricket Board, which labelled CA’s move as “pathetic”.

But Hockley was adamant CA was being consistent with the stance it took in withdrawing from a one-off Test against Afghanistan due to the ruling Taliban’s stance on women’s rights, and a “deterioration” in that area left the governing body no choice.

“It is clearly a very sad and challenging situation,” Hockley said.

“We did not take this decision lightly and consulted widely, including with our government.

“We were hopeful of playing the series and have been in regular dialogue with the Afghanistan Cricket Board; however, announcements by the Taliban in late November and late December signalling the deterioration of basic human rights for women in Afghanistan led to our decision to withdraw from these games. Basic human rights is not politics.”

Last December the Taliban, which fought its way back into power in 2021 and immediately placed bans on girls and women playing sport, banned women from universities in Afghanistan, having previously banned them from attending high school.

Afghanistan also remains the only ICC full member nation without a women‘s team, having been exempt from the rule that demands having one for inclusion as a Test nation, and has no active women’s program.

Australian fats bowler Kane Richardson said he and the players supported CA because it was about “equality” for all.

“You can only be in support of equality really. That’s the matter of the issue. If that means players have different stances, that’s always going to happen,” he said.

“I think equality above all is what matters. I think it’s a conversation which needs to be had and CA is doing the right thing. The important thing with all this is action follows and change comes.

“It’s an issue which is much bigger than cricket.”

Khan, who used Twitter to declare the latest move “sets us back” on their cricket development, has previously declared his opposition to the Taliban’s rules against women in social media posts.

Despite Khan’s dissent at CA’s latest decision, Hockley said the spinner would always have a place in the BBL, where he has been a poster boy not only for the Adelaide Strikers but the competition.

“We acknowledge and applaud Rashid Khan’s and other Afghanistan cricketers’ comments at the time condemning the Taliban’s decision to ban women from universities,” Hockley said.

“Rashid will always be welcome in the BBL.

“The Australian Cricketers Association was not involved in discussions around the decision but also took a supportive position over CA’s stance.”

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