Rashid Khan threatens BBL boycott after Australia cancel Afghanistan series

Afghanistan star Rashid Khan has threatened to boycott the Big Bash League following Australia’s decision to cancel a series against his country on ethical grounds.

Cricket Australia announced on Thursday that they would not be taking part in three planned ODIs in March, taking a stance against the treatment of women and girls in the Taliban-ruled country.

Afghanistan is the only full member nation without an active women’s team, due to restrictions imposed by the administration, with girls currently banned from middle and high school education, universities, gymnasiums and parks.

The International Cricket Council has said it is concerned about the situation in the country but Australia’s unilateral decision to withdraw from the United Arab Emirates-based fixtures has met with a mixed response.

Rashid – one of the world’s biggest white-ball stars and the current number0-one T20 bowler in the ICC rankings – has been a major draw in the BBL with Adelaide Strikers but has suggested he may pull out of future stints in the tournament as a result of the developments.

“Cricket! The only hope for the country,” Khan tweeted. “Keep politics out of it.”

He attached a longer note, which went on: “I am really disappointed to hear that Australia have pulled out of the series to play us in March. 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.”

A statement issued by Cricket Australia made it clear the withdrawal was based on moral rather than sporting reasons and had political support.

A statement from Cricket Australia: “Following extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the Australian Government, Cricket Australia has decided that it is unable to proceed at this time with the upcoming ICC Super League three-match men’s ODI series between Australia and Afghanistan scheduled for the UAE in March 2023.

“This decision follows the recent announcement by the Taliban of further restrictions on women’s and girls’ education and employment opportunities and their ability to access parks and gyms.

Australia against England at Old Trafford
Australia were due to play three ODIs against Afghanistan in March (Jason Cairnduff/PA)

“CA is committed to supporting growing the game for women and men around the world, including in Afghanistan, and will continue to engage with the Afghanistan Cricket Board in anticipation of improved conditions for women and girls in the country.

“We thank the Australian Government for its support on this matter.”

Australia, who have automatically qualified for the World Cup in India in October, will forfeit the series, with 30 competition points awarded to Afghanistan.