Recently Cricket Australia (CA) released an official statement announcing that the Aus v Afg ODI series will no longer take place owing to the Taliban banning girls from pursuing education. It’s not the first time sports and sporting platforms have been used by boards, players, and fans alike to make political statements or to raise awareness about important subjects. In the recently concluded Football World Cup, the Iranian team refused to sing the national anthem in protest of the government’s atrocities on its people.
But why take steps when it’s not going to reap any results? Steps that will do more damage than repair what’s broken? Here’s why cancelling the Aus v Afg series won’t make a difference
The Aus v Afg ODI series cancelled
What exactly happened?
On Thursday CA the official board of cricketing affairs in Australia announced that the yellow caps won’t be flying to UAE to play a series of three ODIs with Afghanistan as part of the ICC Super League. The kangaroos were to fly to the Emirates at the conclusion of their tour to India. It is worth mentioning here that due to the political instability and lack of peace in Afghanistan, UAE has been officiated as their home ground for all home series.
The purpose behind this sudden decision was the recent verdict by the Taliban, who are currently in the government in Afghanistan, barring girls and women from getting an education and working in the private/public sector. The decision was heavily criticized around the world and even the International Cricket Council (ICC) expressed its concern over the government’s decision. CA is the only board to have taken such a decision and has said that it will continue to be engaged with Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB)
The CA further added, “This decision follows the recent announcement by the Taliban of further restrictions on women’s and girls’ education and employment opportunities and their ability to access parks and gyms.”
Notably, this is not the first time CA has postponed an Aus v Afg test match. In 2021, both sides were to play the match in Hobart in November. The reason at that time was a similar Taliban policy that stopped women and girls from participating in sports.
Why cancelling the series isn’t a good idea
While there is no doubt that CA must have taken this step in hopes that the Taliban would reconsider their decision but in all honesty, this will change nothing if not do more damage. Here’s why
It doesn’t matter to the Taliban
The government of Afghanistan isn’t made up of some gullible individuals. It constitutes some hard-core religious fanatics and a mere cancellation of a series isn’t going to deter them from their resolve. Had this been the case, the announcement would have been reversed earlier since many prominent celebrities and even countries criticized the government for coming up with this policy. Many voices were raised but all went in vain. And at the end of the day, the Aus v Afg ODIs were just a set of games.
The people of Afghanistan need funding
The CA is right for fighting for the rights of girls but there also exist problems far more grave. Ever since the foreign powers left the country in August of 2021, the people of Afghanistan have been left to face extreme poverty and famine. So much as so people have been forced to sell their daughters in exchange for money.
Players from the national teams have set up organizations that aid in providing food and other necessities to the deserving. All such organizations are mainly sourced through fees obtained by playing international cricket and leagues. When matches are cancelled, all such charity institutes are affected which indirectly affects those who take benefit from it. Seeing the bigger picture is key here.
Cricket is their only source of entertainment
Like many other cricketing countries, the game brings so much joy to the people of Afghanistan and for reasons far beyond their control, it’s their only source of happiness. The people have seen so much loss and destruction over the past few years, even cricket was sparsely played.
When opportunities like the Aus v Afg ODI series arise, it’s like an escape for the countrymen. Cancellation only takes away their happiness.
It hurts their feelings
The people and players alike are hurt when such decisions are made. The country is more than just a war-torn piece of land governed by extremists. Sports and politics must be kept away from the game. Many of the prominent players from the Afghanistan cricket team took to Twitter to voice their anger and hurt.
Interesting to read: When politics take over cricket
Fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq took to social media to announce his boycott of the Big Bash League (BBL) Australia’s version of the league cricket
Ace pacer Rashid Khan called this a set-back and expressed his disappointment at CA’s sudden decision of abandoning the Aus v Afg ODI series
Power-hitter Rahmanullah Gurbaz stated that politics should not be mixed with cricket and that such announcements take away their only source of happiness
Even though Cricket Australia’s verdict did not go too well with the cricket fraternity, it is important to keep in mind that CA has done some wonderful things the previous year including raising funds for flood-affected people in Pakistan and donating their match fee to Sri Lanka. But it’s an imperative lesson for other countries that rash decisions like these don’t do any good but rather cause much hurt and disappointment.