Afghanistan Pacer, Naveen Ul Haq took to social media to take a sly dig at Australia’s refusal to take part in a bilateral test series against Afghanistan back in 2021. “Refusing to play the bilateral series, now it will be interesting to see cricket Australia stand in the World Cup #standards #humanrights or 2 points,” Naveen wrote on his Instagram Story.
Table of Contents
Why did England withdraw from playing against Afghanistan?
Cricket Australia had withdrawn from the three match ODI Series against the Afghanistan Cricket Team, that was supposed to take place after the series against India, because of the concerning situation in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s takeover.
Following the Taliban’s takeover, Women were banned from participating in Sports. Subsequently, the Afghanistan women’s national cricket team was disbanded. Currently, Afghanistan is the only test playing Nation that does not have an active women’s team.
In a statement by Cricket Australia, they explained that the decision to ban women from not just playing sports, but seeking education and employment was the reason behind their call to not engage in a bilateral series between the men’s team of the two countries. Australia’s involvement in the Women’s game and its development supports their vision of Cricket being a sport for everyone, not just Men. They believed that while they would love to see Rashid Khan play against them, it would be unfair to go through with the opportunity if Roya Samim and her team mates are denied the same opportunity.
The decision was supported by the Australian Cricketers Association, with a statement being issued offering their unequivocal endorsement.
Impact and Reaction to the Decision
The reactions to the decision were mixed, with some parties commanding Australia for the decision and some claiming that the Afghan Cricket Fans were being punished for decisions taken by their ‘government’.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board accused Australia of politicizing the wonderful sport of Cricket and stated that the relation between the two countries had been dented forever. They also claim that the opportunity to play bigger cricketing nations like Australia aids in their growth and development in the sport. Australia withdrawing from the clash hurts them not just in a financial sense, but a sporting sense too.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board also expressed dismay about the fact that Australia’s decision could act as a trigger for other Cricket Associations to apply bans on Afghanistan. There was also growing concerns that a decision like this could make the Taliban further tighten restrictions on the women’s team and on women in sports in general.
Afghan cricketers also reacted negatively to the decision. Afghanistan’s star leg spinner, Rashid Khan, made his disappointment abundantly clear and stated that the decision would set back the country in their cricketing journey. He also threatened to boycott his services from the Adelaide Thunder and abandon the Big Bash League, Australia’s premier domestic T20 league.
Naveen Ul Haq’s Story
On the 4th of November, 2023, in the midst of the ODI World Cup, Naveel Ul Haq put up a story on his Instagram Page, publicly wondering if Australia would play the match against Afghanistan or claim that they would like to uphold their values, stand for human rights and back out of the mega clash and forfeit the two points.
The Story shows us how bitter the Afghanistan Cricket Team was about Australia’s decision. Afghanistan’s upward trajectory could have accelerated had the two teams played each other in 2021, but instead, they regressed.
It also makes the differences between a bilateral series and a crucial group stage match in an ICC Tournament abundantly clear.