CA chief Hockley commits to resume bilateral cricket with Afghanistan

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley congratulated the Afghanistan men's cricket team for their victory over Australia in the league phase of the recently concluded T20 World Cup and reiterated commitment to resume bilateral cricket with the Asian nation.
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CA chief Hockley commits to resume bilateral cricket with Afghanistan

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley congratulated the Afghanistan men's cricket team for their victory over Australia in the league phase of the recently concluded T20 World Cup and reiterated commitment to resume bilateral cricket with the Asian nation.

Earlier this year, in March, Cricket Australia postponed a men’s T20I series against Afghanistan, scheduled for August this year, citing the deterioration of human rights for women and girls in the country. This decision followed their previous postponement of an ODI series against Afghanistan.

"We hope for progress and will continue to discuss and maintain contact with the Afghanistan Cricket Board. They had a fantastic tournament with phenomenal players and played with great passion. Regarding our bilateral matches, we have consulted extensively with stakeholders, including the Australian government, and chose to postpone our last couple of series with Afghanistan on human rights grounds," Hockley replied to IANS query in a selected media interaction.

"We maintain a close relationship and regular dialogue with the Afghanistan Cricket Board and want to see cricket thrive worldwide for both men and women. We hope for progress and continue to discuss and maintain contact with the Afghanistan Cricket Board, aiming to resume bilateral cricket against Afghanistan in the future," he said.

The CA chief also highlighted the Afghanistan women's team's exile in Australia and their request to the ICC to play. Hockley confirmed that discussions on this topic would likely take place in upcoming ICC meetings, while also noting that several Afghan women cricketers are already integrated into local cricket clubs in Australia.

"We understand that the Afghanistan women based in Australia have written to the ICC. We have meetings coming up in Colombo in July, and I’m sure it will be a topic of conversation. The Afghan women in Australia are engaged with the cricketing community, but it’s not something we were directly involved in," he said.

Hockley also hinted at the possibility of organising a tri-series involving cricketing powerhouses India and Pakistan in Australia. This announcement comes as a significant development, given that the two cricketing giants have not played a bilateral series since the 2012–13 season, limiting their encounters to global ICC events.

"Pakistan and India are traditional rival teams; there is a lot of excitement for their matches," Hockley said.

While no formal talks have been initiated yet, he reiterated Cricket Australia's openness to facilitate and support such initiatives. "To the extent that we’d be able to facilitate or help in that, we’d be very open to do so. However, the final decision rests with the respective cricket boards of India and Pakistan."

This statement underscores CA's willingness to bridge the gap between the two nations, leveraging Australia's neutral grounds to bring fans the electrifying experience of India-Pakistan cricket outside of ICC tournaments.

The excitement surrounding an India-Pakistan series is palpable, particularly after their recent clash in the 2024 T20 World Cup group stage held in New York, which attracted 90,293 spectators.

India emerged victorious by six runs, with Rohit Sharma's team eventually lifting the trophy, while Pakistan, led by Babar Azam, failed to advance beyond the group stage.

Reflecting on the enthusiasm for these matches, Hockley shared, "Given the schedules, we haven’t had formal discussions in that regard, but we have said it on the record that we will be happy to host the India vs. Pakistan bilateral series."

The Melbourne Cricket Club and the Victorian government have also expressed interest in hosting such high-profile games, following the massive turnout and success of past events.

Moreover, Hockley highlighted the necessity for bilateral series to carry more weight and significance, akin to the World Test Championship (WTC) structure. "The ODI World Cup, which India hosted last year, was fantastic. I think the ten-team format, where every game counts, is excellent.

"From an Australian perspective, we would continue to value all three formats and would also want that each bilateral series must have consequences in terms of qualifications for the World Cups," he concluded.

--IANS

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