Australia’s cricket Test against Afghanistan is set to be scrapped after the Taliban declared a ban on women’s sport.
The first Test between the nations was slated to begin on November 27 in Hobart, providing Tim Paine’s team a key Ashes tune-up.
But Cricket Australia, under significant political pressure to act, has released a statement confirming it is ready to cancel the fixture.
“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,” CA wrote.
“We thank the Australian and Tasmanian governments for their support on this important issue.
“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 ICC, which could scupper the match if it takes a hardline stance regarding Afghanistan’s membership, is concerned about reports the Taliban will ban women from playing cricket.
The global governing body said the matter would be discussed at its next board meeting in November.
That means, unless the ICC expedites a discussion and vote, Afghanistan will start its Twenty20 World Cup campaign on October 25.
The ICC could also look at cutting funding or allowing Afghanistan to continue playing under a soft ban. That would allow the Test to go ahead, unless CA or the federal government intervene.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board has said it is also in talks about a T20 tri-series involving Australia and West Indies in early October that would serve as match practice for the World Cup.
ICC rules dictate that full members must have a national women’s team.
Afghanistan is yet to play a women’s international game but there had been positive steps prior to the Taliban takeover, with the ACB handing out 25 contracts to female players in 2020.
Those players are believed to be in hiding in Kabul, fearful about the Taliban’s return to power.
Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, told SBS on Wednesday that women will be banned from playing sport.
“In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this,” Mr Wasiq said.