30 Apr 2024

Black Caps to play Afghanistan despite Australia's human rights move

4:15 pm on 30 April 2024
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The Black Caps will honour their T20 World Cup match in Guyana in June. Photo: Richard Hood/Photosport

New Zealand Cricket has decided against following their Australian counterparts in calling off a series against Afghanistan because of what it called a deteriorating human rights situation for women and girls in the Taliban-ruled country.

Cricket Australia decided in March to pull out of a men's T20 series in the United Arab Emirates in August due to human rights concerns.

But the Black Caps have taken a different tack, deciding to play a one-off away test against Afghanistan in September and will honour their T20 World Cup match in Guyana in June.

New Zealand Cricket public affairs manager Richard Boock said the matter had been discussed at board level and with the New Zealand Cricket Players Association.

"The consensus view was that a boycott in isolation would change nothing in Afghanistan, and that it would be more constructive to keep dialogue and participation channels open, while continuing to advocate strongly for change," Boock said in a statement.

"NZC strongly believes that cricket is a game for everyone and would like to see far greater support for the women's game in Afghanistan in the short to medium term."

Australia has pulled out of matches with Afghanistan three times in recent years. It cancelled a one-off test scheduled for Hobart in 2021 and last year it withdrew from a three-match ODI series due to be played in UAE.

Cricket Australia said its latest decision came after consultations with the Australian government.

"The government's advice is that conditions for women and girls in Afghanistan are getting worse," Cricket Australia's board said in a statement.

"For this reason, we have maintained our previous position and will postpone the bilateral series against Afghanistan."

At the recent MCC annual Colin Cowdrey lecture former England international cricketer turned commentator Isa Guha said: "The game can probably do more to try and support these women and stand up to gender oppression."

She said the ICC had "overlooked or ignored" its own constitution in failing to act.

"I look at it in terms of those who are being oppressed so imagine yourself waking up and you've lost all basic human rights. The idea of playing cricket is gone and that was something that gave you hope. You've had to burn your kit because you don't know what is going to happen to you or your family."

Guha acknowledged that while the women in Afghanistan support the men's team and the hope it creates for the country, it's also "a damning reminder of the stark reality that they face, in that the world has turned their back on them".

The venue for the New Zealand-Afghanistan test in September has not been announced but there is speculation it may be played in the UAE.

The Black Caps are also due to play in a white-ball series against Afghanistan in India or UAE in 2026.

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