Cricket Australia ‘likely’ to postpone Afghanistan Test

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive Nick Hockley has said the one-off men’s Test against Afghanistan — scheduled for Hobart in November — is likely to be postponed.

Hockley said CA was attempting to get more information about the “situation on the ground” in Afghanistan, following the Taliban’s recent takeover of the country.

The Taliban has said that it does not support women and girls playing cricket, which is a condition of membership of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The Hobart Test against Afghanistan — scheduled to begin at Bellerive Oval on November 27 — had previously been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s likely that we will postpone that (Test) until a point of time where there is more clarity and that’s following consultation with the Australian government,” Hockley said.

“The work we’ve been doing is to understand the current situation on the ground.

“We made our position very, very clear off the back of some earlier comments [made by the Taliban] around — potentially — cricket as a sport for women and girls not being supported in Afghanistan.

Hockley said he was hopeful the Test would be played “at a point in the time in the future when things are a little clearer”.

Bellerive Oval is scheduled to host the Test against Afghanistan.(Getty Images: Steve Bell)

The situation with cricket in Afghanistan has been opaque since the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

Former Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chief executive Hamid Shinwari was replaced last month by Naseeb Khan.

Afghanistan is scheduled to play in the men’s T20 World Cup, which begins later this month in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Acting ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice said the organisation would discuss Afghanistan’s position in a meeting at the end of the tournament.

“Since the change of regime took place in Afghanistan in August, we have been in regular contact with the Afghanistan Cricket Board,” Allardice said.

“Our primary function is to support the development of cricket in that country through the member board (ACB).

“We have said all along we are waiting to see how things unfold under a different regime in that country.”

CA delighted with Ashes green light

Hockley said he was pleased the men’s Ashes would take place after the English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) gave “conditional approval” for the series to be played in Australia.

The ECB also announced its squad for the five-Test series overnight, with the tour party to leave for Australia early next month.

The first Test is set to begin at the Gabba in Brisbane on December 8.

The England touring party will do two weeks of quarantine at a Gold Coast resort where they can train and move around.

“There’s been a huge amount of work by many, many people over, I would say, the last six months,” Hockley said.

“It’s about keeping everyone safe.”

Hockley said he had been in daily contact with the ECB and had spoken regularly with the federal and state governments.

The fifth Test in Perth in January has been a sticking point during negotiations because of the West Australian government’s hard-border rule.

CA has been adamant the England and Australian squads will not undergo a two-week quarantine in West Australia before the Test, which could force the match to be moved.

Hockley said CA was working towards conditions where the players would compete in a bio-secure bubble but also have “relative freedoms”.

“We would desperately like to play the fifth Test in Perth; it’s absolutely our intention to do so,” he said.

“Those discussions are going on right as we speak. That will be our focus over the next couple of months.

“We’re encouraged by the experience we had last summer where we were able to play five Big Bash (League) games at the new (Perth) stadium in January.

A sign in a packed stadium shows the attendance number
Perth Stadium hosted AFL matches throughout the season, including the grand final.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Hockley said it was premature to speculate on where the fifth Test could be played if it was not staged in Perth.

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