Dean backs Australia’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan series

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Dean backs Australia’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan series

England all-rounder Charlie Dean has voiced her support for human rights and says she understands the decision for Australia’s men’s team to pull out of their T20 series with Afghanistan.

Cricket Australia recently announced they had withdrawn from their T20 series against Afghanistan in August after being advised by the Australian government of worsening restrictions for Afghan women and girls in the Taliban-ruled country.

The series had been due to take place in the United Arab Emirates, with Australia having also withdrawn from a Test match against Afghanistan in 2021 and a one-day series in March last year.

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“I guess it’s in Cricket Australia’s interest to make those decisions,” Dean told Sky Sports. “It would be so good to have a women’s team in general but also it’s understandable where they are coming from from a human rights point of view.

“I’m probably not the most educated on the subject but I definitely support it in terms of the human rights abuse.”

Afghanistan’s women’s team was notably disbanded following the Taliban’s return to power in 2021, with some players having since moved to Australia, while girls in the country have been banned from school and university classrooms.

“It’s so important for women to be able to get an education, to do all the things that I am able to do from a privileged position living in England. It’s certainly an interesting topic and one that I need to educate myself on a bit more,” said Dean.

Dean is part of the England team gearing up to face New Zealand in the second of their five T20 meetings in Nelson on Thursday night.

Heather Knight's 63 was crucial at England set their hosts a target of 161

Image: Heather Knight’s 63 was crucial at England set their hosts a target of 161

Heather Knight fired 63 off 39 balls before England’s attack limited the hosts to just 133-5 in reply to see out a 27-run victory in the series opener in Dunedin.

“It was a great performance the other day, we felt like we did well to get such a big total on more of a tricky wicket than we thought,” said Dean. “Our bowlers did really well to keep the run rate high and seal the game.

“With Amelia Kerr and Sophie Devine coming back into the squad it could be a potentially stronger New Zealand XI coming up but I guess we take a lot of confidence from our performance the other day.

“Just looking to take all the positives we got from a couple of days ago, nothing much changes from our philosophy and how we’re looking to play the game. Hopefully we can have a repeat performance and keep being clinical.”

Maia Bouchier delivered one of the contest’s more encouraging performances as she hit an unbeaten 43 in support of Knight to guide England to a defendable total of 160-4.

Opportunities for younger members of the squad comes in light of Nat Sciver-Brunt, Danni Wyatt, Sophie Ecclestone and Alice Capsey missing the opening three T20s in order to see out the Women’s Premier League campaign.

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England’s Lauren Bell says the team always felt in control during their T20 victory over New Zealand

“I think it’s brilliant for younger players to get a bit of opportunity than previously. It’s great to see Maia Bouchier getting decent time in the middle,” Dean continued.

“I’m sure Bess Heath will get some opportunity as well as the girls in the squad, Linsey [Smith] and Hollie [Armitage] as well. It’s a great opportunity for them to be around the team and hopefully they get an opportunity in the upcoming games.”

England’s visit will see them place five T20 matches between March 19-29, before following up with three one-day internationals across Wellington and Hamilton from March 31 into the first week of April.

It marks valuable preparation for coach Jon Lewis and his side ahead of the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh this autumn.

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“The T20 World Cup in Bangladesh is a big goal for us at the end of our summer and I think every series we play from now forward is the lead-up to that with preparations,” said Dean.

“We’re definitely thinking about how we look to play. Bangladesh conditions are going to be different with what they are here in New Zealand, we’re looking to take positive options.

“We’re thinking about how we play here is going to affect how we go at the end of the summer, it’s exciting. I wouldn’t say we’re under pressure, we’re still a long way away which is quite helpful but we are still thinking about it for sure.”

England’s schedule in New Zealand:

  • First IT20, Dunedin: England beat New Zealand by 27 runs, March 19
  • Second IT20, Nelson: New Zealand vs England, March 22
  • Third IT20, Nelson: New Zealand vs England, March 24
  • Fourth IT20, Wellington: New Zealand vs England, March 27
  • Fifth IT20, Wellington: New Zealand vs England, March 29
  • First ODI, Wellington: New Zealand vs England, March 31
  • Second ODI, Hamilton: New Zealand vs England, April 3
  • Third ODI, Hamilton: New Zealand vs England, April 6
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