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Cricket Australia has confirmed the postponement of the Test match against Afghanistan, scheduled for Hobart in late November, following the stance on the part of Afghanistan's Taliban government that women would not being allowed to play sport. Australia, however, hopes to play the match in the future.
It had been inevitable for some time that the match, which was to be the first Test between the teams, would not go ahead after CA said in early September that it would have "no alternative" but to call off the game if women were not allowed equal access to sport.
However, CA is hopeful it will be able to host the game when the landscape in Afghanistan becomes clearer. The Test had previously been postponed from the 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"CA is committed to support growing the game for women and men in Afghanistan and around the world, however, given the present uncertainty, CA felt it necessary to postpone the Test match until a later time when the situation is clearer," a statement said. "CA looks forward to hosting Afghanistan players in the BBL this season, who are great ambassadors for the game, and to hosting both the Afghanistan women's and men's team in the not too distant future."
In a statement on its website, the Afghanistan Cricket Board said the decision to push the Test back was a mutual one between the two boards.
"Our one-off test against Cricket Australia is postponed as a result of an agreement between the boards. We will discuss and decide how & when to go ahead with the test in our next meeting," ACB CEO Naseeb Khan said. "We are committed to obtaining positive ties with CA and are expecting the same attitude from them as well."
Afghanistan allrounder Mohammad Nabi, who has been a regular in the BBL, said: "It's disappointing the Test match isn't going ahead this year but I'm happy that the match is only postponed and not cancelled.
"My representative has been assured by Cricket Australia that they remain committed to the development of cricket in Afghanistan, so I look forward to hearing how we can work together in this regard."
The match had been due to be a key part of Australia's Ashes build-up and will now be replaced with an intrasquad match in Brisbane from December 1 to 3.
The loss of the Hobart Test means captain Tim Paine may not have the chance to lead Australia in his home state before retirement. There remains a possibility that the Perth Ashes Test could need to be moved given Western Australia's strict border rules although CA are confident of still staging it as planned.
"Playing international cricket in our state remains a high priority for Cricket Tasmania and we will be working closely with Cricket Australia on international content opportunities for our Tasmanian cricket fans for both this and future seasons," Cricket Tasmania chief executive Dominic Baker said.
"We're thrilled with the delivery of the first 24 WBBL matches for this season in Tasmania, and as we have said throughout Blundstone Arena is a world-class facility, willing and ready to host any cricket content at short notice."
Australia have not played Test cricket since January when they hosted India. They were due to tour South Africa in February and March, but that was postponed due to concerns over biosecurity measures. The CA chief executive Nick Hockley recently said the board was hopeful of finding space for that series in 2023. The Ashes will get underway at the Gabba on December 8.