SYDNEY: The first Test match between the men's teams of Australia and Afghanistan looks set to be called off after Afghanistan's newly-installed Taliban government announced its opposition to women from the Islamic nation playing cricket. In a statement released on Thursday, Cricket Australia confirmed it would be unable to proceed with the planned Test at Hobart from November 27 if news reports of Taliban views on the women's game were true.
"Driving the growth of women's cricket globally is incredibly important to Cricket Australia," the statement said. "Our vision for cricket is that it is a sport for all and we support the game unequivocally for women at every level.
"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.
A spokesman for the Taliban government's cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, had told Australian broadcaster SBS News that cricket was not permitted for women under Islamic law.
"Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed," Wasiq said. "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. It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it."
He said their stance on the women's game would not soften even if it would mean cancellation of the Hobart Test: "Even for this, if we face challenges and problems, we have fought for our religion so that Islam is to be followed. We will not cross Islamic values even if it carries opposite reactions. We will not leave our Islamic rules."
In the wake of those comments, Australia's Federal Sports Minister Senator Richard Colbeck urged the International Cricket Council to take a stand against the Taliban's position and take a decision on Afghanistan's full membership.
Speaking with ABC Radio on Thursday, Senator Colbeck said no decision had been made on whether visas would be granted to members of the Afghanistan men's team if the scheduled Test in Hobart went ahead. IANS