Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday made it clear that it will not host the Afghanistan men's team next month if women are not allowed to play the game under Taliban rule.
"Driving the growth of women's cricket globally is incredibly important to Cricket Australia. Our vision for cricket is that it is a sport for all and we support the game unequivocally for women at every level," the CA said.
"If recent media reports that women's cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated, Cricket Australia would have no alternative but to not host Afghanistan for the proposed Test Match due to be played in Hobart." "We thank the Australian and Tasmanian Governments for their support on this important issue," it added.
Cricket Australia's statement comes a day after the Taliban's cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, was quoted as saying that it wasn't necessary for women to play cricket.
The one-off Test between Australia and Afghanistan is scheduled to begin on November 27 in Hobart. The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) also endorsed CA's stance.
"What is happening now in Afghanistan is a human rights issue that transcends the game of cricket. And while we would love to see players such as Rashid Khan play against Australia, hosting this Test Match cannot be considered if that same opportunity to play the game is denied to Roya Samim and her team-mates," it said.
Meanwhile, in a statement released on Wednesday night, the International Cricket Council (ICC) expressed concern with the latest comments from the newly installed Taliban regime and foreshadowed further discussions at the next ICC board meeting which is scheduled for November, after completion of the T20 World Cup.
That would ensure the Afghanistan men's team's involvement in the T20 tournament in the UAE and Oman, but to hold full-member status ICC status nations must field both men's and women's teams.
"The ICC is committed to the long-term growth of women's cricket and despite the cultural and religious challenges in Afghanistan, steady progress has been made in this area since Afghanistan's admission as a Full Member in 2017," the ICC statement said.
"The ICC has been monitoring the changing situation in Afghanistan and is concerned to note recent media reports that women will no longer be allowed to play cricket."
Afghanistan's Test against Australia is due to take place on November 27. Earlier this week, Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein had cited his concerns about the fixture and said he would seek guidance from the local Hazara community.
(With inputs from PTI)
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