West News Wire: Following additional Taliban limitations on the rights of women and girls, Australia’s men’s team has withdrawn from their March One-Day International (ODI) series against Afghanistan, according to Cricket Australia (CA).

Three One-Day Internationals between Australia and Afghanistan were set to take place in the United Arab Emirates, but CA decided against it following “extensive consultation” with all relevant parties, including the Australian government.

This choice was made in response to the Taliban’s recent declaration of additional limitations on women’s and girls’ access to parks and gyms, work possibilities, and education, CA stated in a statement on Thursday.

CA is dedicated to promoting the expansion of the sport for both sexes around the globe, particularly in Afghanistan, and will keep in contact with the Afghanistan Cricket Board in preparation of improved conditions for women and girls in the country.

“We thank the Australian government for its support on this matter.”

The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) described Australia’s decision as “pathetic”.

“The decision to withdraw is unfair and unexpected and will have a negative impact,” the ACB said in a statement.

The series formed part of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Super League, where the top eight teams automatically qualify for the 2023 World Cup. Australia have already qualified for the tournament.

The ACB said it would contact the ICC and was considering withdrawing its players from Australia’s domestic Big Bash League in retaliation.

Australia were scheduled to play a Test match against Afghanistan in November 2021 but the fixture was postponed after the Taliban seized power in August of that year.

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Afghanistan remain the only ICC full-member nation without a women’s team. They have continued to appear at ICC events since the Taliban takeover, however, and faced Australia during last year’s Twenty20 World Cup.

ICC Chief Executive Geoff Allardice has said Afghanistan’s lack of commitment to women’s cricket is a concern for the sport’s global governing body and that the matter will be discussed at its next board meeting.

“Our board has been monitoring progress since the change of regime,” Allardice said. “It is a concern that progress is not being made in Afghanistan and it’s something our board will consider at its next meeting in March. As far as we are aware, there isn’t activity at the moment.”

For the series, Australia will give up 30 competition points that count toward World Cup qualification. However, they have already qualified automatically for the 50-over competition in India in October.

Midway through 2021, the Taliban took back control of Kabul and promptly imposed limitations on female athletes.

The ban on women attending universities and the exclusion of young girls from secondary schools by the new rulers last month sparked anger around the world. Additionally, women have been barred from gyms and parks.

Women were recently informed that they could no longer work in the assistance industry in Afghanistan.

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