Australia Test captain Tim Paine has said that teams could refuse to play Afghanistan in the upcoming T20 World Cup - or even pull out of next month's tournament - over the Taliban's reported ban on women participating in sport.
The International Cricket Council has yet to decide how to deal with the regime's stance on women and the Afghan men's team is still scheduled to play the tournament that starts on October 17 in the UAE and Oman.
Under ICC regulations, nations with Test status must also have an active women's team and Australia on Wednesday said it would cancel a maiden Test against Afghanistan in Hobart in November unless the Taliban backtracks.
“[The Hobart test] is not looking good, we are in a world of trouble no doubt about that, but the reasoning around it is probably fair enough,” Paine said on SEN radio.
“There are probably two levels to it. There's the cricket aspect to it from an ICC point of view that to be a Test-playing nation you have to have an international women's team, obviously with the Taliban at the moment banning women from playing any sport and that has implications at an ICC level.
“Secondly from a female, human rights point of view, excluding half of your population from trying to do something is not on.
“I don't think we want to be associated with countries that are taking things or opportunities off literally half of their population.”
Paine's comments come a day after Afghanistan's T20 captain Rashid Khan stepped down, saying he was frustrated not to be consulted in the selection of the first national team to be named since the Taliban took control of the country.
The regime said shortly after taking power that the schedule for the Afghan men would not be interrupted.
But the deputy head of their cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, told Australian broadcaster SBS on Wednesday that women would not be allowed to play cricket, or any other sport.
“I don't think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket,” Wasiq said.
“In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this.”
Painne believes it is time for the ICC to make a statement on the situation. “At this stage we have heard from Cricket Australia, we've heard from the Australian government, we've heard from the Australian Cricketers Association,” he added.
“But as yet we've heard nothing from the ICC, which I think is fascinating given there is a T20 World Cup in a month's time and at the moment Afghanistan are in that.
“It will be interesting to see what happens in that space. Does the team get kicked out of the World Cup?
“I imagine it will be impossible if teams are pulling out against playing against them and governments are not letting them travel to our shores, then how a team like that can be allowed to play in an ICC sanctioned event is going to be very, very hard to see.”