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News

Rashid Khan threatens to pull out of BBL over Australia's refusal to play Afghanistan

The Afghanistan board calls CA's decision "pathetic", and says it will write to the ICC over the issue

Rashid Khan has been part of the BBL since 2017-18  •  Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

Rashid Khan has been part of the BBL since 2017-18  •  Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

Rashid Khan has threatened to pull out of the BBL, where he plays for Adelaide Strikers, following Cricket Australia's decision to withdraw its men's team from a bilateral ODI series against Afghanistan in March because of the Taliban's stance banning university education for girls in the country.
"I am really disappointed to hear that Australia have pulled out of the series to play us in March," Rashid said. "I take great pride in representing my country, and we have made great progress on the world stage. This decision from CA sets us back in that journey. If playing vs Afghanistan is so uncomfortable for Australia, then I wouldn't want to make anyone uncomfortable with my presence in the BBL. Therefore, I will be strongly considering my future in that competition."
Rashid played eight matches for Strikers this season before leaving to play for MI Cape Town in the SA20. He was not expected to return to the BBL this season because of conflicting commitments.
Rashid's statement joined a chorus of protests from Afghanistan's male cricketers and came shortly after the Afghanistan Cricket Board had called CA's statement "pathetic". The ACB said it would write to the ICC over the issue, saying the Australian board was "prioritising political interests over the principles of fair play and sportsmanship", and "undermining the integrity of the game and damaging the relationship between the two nations".
Earlier on Thursday, CA had announced its decision to withdraw the Australian men's team from a three-match ODI series against Afghanistan in the UAE following consultation with the Australian government. The reason given was a recent announcement from the Taliban - which governs Afghanistan - that it was banning university education for girls, a development that ICC CEO Geoff Allardice had described as concerning.
The ACB said in its response that it would now "rethink the participation of Afghan players in the Big Bash League" if CA did not overturn its decision. The ACB's statement, however, did not make a specific mention of the future of women's cricket in Afghanistan.
"Cricket Australia's decision to withdraw from upcoming matches against Afghanistan is coming after consultation and potential enforcement from the Australian Government, which is an unfortunate attempt to enter the realm of politics and politicise the sport," the ACB statement said. "The decision to withdraw from playing the upcoming ODI series against Afghanistan is unfair and unexpected, and will have a negative impact on the development and growth of cricket in Afghanistan as well as will affect the love and passion of the Afghan nation for the game.
"Cricket has played a significant role in promoting unity and national pride in Afghanistan. After years of war and conflict, cricket has helped to bring people together and provide a sense of normalcy to the country. It has also been an important source of hope and inspiration for all Afghans, particularly young people. In addition, Cricket [sic] has also been an important tool for promoting education and social development in the country.
"The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has been working to promote cricket in schools and universities, and it has also been using the sport to promote healthy lifestyles and discourage young people from getting involved in drugs and crime. Cricket has been an important tool for promoting peace, unity, and development in Afghanistan, and it will continue to be a source of inspiration and hope for the people of the country in the years to come."
This is the second time in two years that CA have cancelled a bilateral fixture with Afghanistan due to the Taliban government's policies on women following the postponement of the one-off Test that was scheduled to be played in Hobart in November 2021.
Australia did play Afghanistan in Adelaide during the recent T20 World Cup. They are slated to meet Afghanistan twice more in the next Future Tours cycle, with three T20Is scheduled at a neutral venue in August 2024, and Afghanistan due to tour Australia in August 2026 to play one Test and three T20Is.