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Khawaja: Australia 'should be playing Afghanistan'

The Australia opener acknowledged the complex issues involved but said CA's stance was 'a little bit hypocritical'

Gulbadin Naib and his team-mates celebrate a review going their way, Afghanistan vs Australia, T20 World Cup, Super Eight, Group 1, Kingstown, June 22, 2024

Afghanistan secured their first win over Australia during the T20 World Cup  •  ICC/Getty Images

Usman Khawaja has said he believes Australia should be playing Afghanistan in bilateral cricket although is sympathetic to the human rights issues for women stemming from the Taliban rule.
Cricket Australia has twice withdrawn from playing Afghanistan - a Test match due to be staged in Australia and a T20 series overseas - citing "a marked deterioration in human rights for women and girls", but continues to face them in ICC events.
Rashid Khan again commented on the situation in the aftermath Afghanistan's famous victory over Australia in the T20 World Cup, saying that he couldn't understand how World Cup events can happen but not bilateral cricket.
"I personally think yes we should be playing Afghanistan," Khawaja told Nine Newspapers at an Amazon Prime event in Melbourne. "I am sympathetic to both sides of the puzzle. I totally respect and agree with a lot of aspects of the stance Cricket Australia has in terms of women's cricket in Afghanistan, but there's also another side to it, of promoting and growing the game.
"This is the second time Australia have backed out of a bilateral series, and I talked to Rashid Khan. He was really disappointed, more so because the Afghanistan people love cricket, and for them cricket is one of the few things they enjoy and brings happiness, and the fact they were going to play Australia was going to be huge, and they don't get to see that now. So it actually hurts the people, and the people are separate from the government."
Khawaja also referenced Afghanistan players appearing in the BBL, with Rashid having become a star for Adelaide Strikers over the years. Rashid initially threatened to withdraw from the competition last year over CA's stance but subsequently made himself available before suffering an injury.
"It's a little bit hypocritical too if we say no we're not going to play Afghanistan, but then allowing Afghanistan cricketers to play in the BBL," Khawaja said. "They 100 percent should [play], but then how do you do one and not the other?"
Speaking after Afghanistan's victory in St Vincent, Rashid said: "Some things which are not under the control of anyone in cricket, and that's something we can't do anything about it. Wish we could do something, and wish that was a kind of solution for it, we would have been happy, but I don't know what's the solution for that."