Australia postpones its first-ever Afghanistan Test match

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Australia on Friday postponed its first-ever cricket Test against Afghanistan, after the country’s ruling Taliban regime effectively banned women from playing the sport.

Australia’s cricketing authorities said that after consultation with “relevant stakeholders”, they decided the men’s Test, to be played in Hobart this month, would not go ahead as planned.

After the Taliban ousted Afghanistan’s elected government in August, senior leaders said Afghan women would no longer play cricket or any other sport.Under the regime’s hardline reading of Islamic law, women are also barred from going to school and from most other public roles.

Senior Australian cricketers had indicated they would like to see the Test cancelled if the de facto ban on women’s cricket remained in place.

But Australia’s white-ball captain Aaron Finch backed Afghanistan cricket to thrive and said the Test would likely be rescheduled soon.

“It would have been a great Test match but I think they still have that in the schedule at some point down the track,” Finch told reporters ahead of his team’s crucial match against West Indies at the Twenty20 World Cup.

“It is really important for world cricket that we have seen, particularly in the shortest formats of the game, how important and how big an impact the Afghan team has had on world cricket.

“So hopefully that can get back up and running as soon as possible.” Afghanistan’s men are currently playing in the T20 World Cup, offering fans in the conflict-plagued country brief respite from woes at home, notching victories against Namibia and Scotland.

But Kabul has been warned it faces an international ban if it fails to field a side at the upcoming women’s World Cup in New Zealand.—AFP

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