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O’Donnell has no sympathy for Afghanistan cricket, backs Australia’s withdrawal


Former all-rounder Simon O’Donnell has backed Australia’s decision to withdraw from a three-match ODI series against Afghanistan in the UAE.

Following consultation with stakeholders and the Australian Government, Cricket Australia flagged the Taliban’s treatment of women as reasons behind their decision.

That call was slammed by the Afghanistan Cricket Board who labelled the decision “pathetic”, while several Afghan players including Rashid Khan have also come out against the call.

O’Donnell though believes Australia made the right call after the Afghanistan Cricket Board failed to distance itself from the Taliban regime.

“I need to consider whether I have any sympathy for Afghanistan cricket,” O’Donnell told SEN Breakfast.

“When that statement comes out and they’re not prepared to make a stand against their government and think the human rights atrocities are fine and that they don’t need to make a mention of them – I find it extraordinary.

“They are accepting who their regime is, the rest of the world is not accepting of that regime.”

Following the decision, Khan - who is a fan favourite with the Adelaide Strikers in the BBL – took to Twitter to state that he may not return to Australia because of the call.

Despite the threats, O’Donnell feels Australia were right to stick to their decision and put the blame on the series falling apart on the Taliban as opposed to Cricket Australia.

“I think Cricket Australia didn’t have anywhere to go, and our government didn’t have anywhere to go,” O’Donnell said.

“I don’t think this is politics wrecking sport, this is the Taliban in Afghanistan wrecking their own sport.

“It’s not our fault, we shouldn’t be blamed for it – our government shouldn’t be blamed for it nor should Cricket Australia.”

Australia is next scheduled to face Afghanistan in a three-match T20 series at a neutral venue in August 2024.

Afghanistan are also billed to tour Australia in August 2026 for a Test match and three T20s.

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