Australia’s Test against Afghanistan on shaky ground after Taliban ban on women’s sport

Australia’s one-off Test against Afghanistan is in serious doubt with federal sports minister Richard Colbeck calling on world cricket’s governing body to take action against the Taliban-led country, following its ban on women’s sport.

A spokesman for the Taliban’s cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq told SBS News on Wednesday women who played cricket might expose their face and bodies. “Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed,” he told SBS.

The Australia-Afghanistan Test is scheduled for Bellerive Oval in Hobart in November, but if the match goes ahead it may be seen as supporting the Taliban’s stance. Colbeck said Afghan athletes would “remain welcome in Australia, but not under the flag of the Taliban”.

He is also calling on the International Cricket Council to take a stand against the Taliban, given their controversial position.

“The Taliban’s attitudes towards women and their individual rights should not be accepted by the international sporting community,” Colbeck told the ABC. “Excluding women from sport at any level is unacceptable.”

Afghanistan Cricket Board chief executive Hamid Shinwari told Reuters the future of the women’s game in the country was clouded.

“So far, we don’t have any news from the government,” he said. “Its future will be decided by the new government. We are still in an emergency state in the country. Whenever we get to a normal state, that decision will be made.”

The Afghan women’s squad was quietly disbanded amid safety concerns a few years after it was formed in 2010 but the ACB revived the team last year and gave contracts to 25 players.

Shinwari said the ACB’s popular program for girls had already been paused, but men’s cricket was allowed to continue.

Tasmania premier Peter Gutwein flagged concerns about the match proceeding in light of reports emanating from Afghanistan.

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley said it was an “extremely challenging and complex situation.”

What's your reaction?