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Afghanistan cricketers threaten BBL boycott, ACB slam ‘pathetic’ CA following Australia ODI series pull-out

Rashid Khan practising a pull shot while training with the Adelaide Strikers
by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Rashid Khan has threatened to withdraw from future involvement in the Big Bash League after Cricket Australia announced that the men’s team would not play the bilateral ODI series against Afghanistan in the UAE in March.

Cricket Australia took the decision after “consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the Australian government,” citing “recent announcements from the Taliban restricting the freedoms of women and girls in Afghanistan”.

Since their return to power in August 2021, the Taliban have taken several steps to limit the freedoms of women in Afghanistan, most recently banning women from attending university in December, as well as from working at local and international NGOs.


Rashid, captain of the Afghanistan men’s T20I side, tweeted that cricket is the “only hope for the country”, requesting politics be “kept out of” the sport.

He continued: “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 on 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.”

Khan follows the message of Afghanistan teammate Naveen-ul-Haq, who called for a boycott of the Big Bash League by Afghanistan players on Twitter: “Time to say won’t be participating in big bash after this until they stop these childish decisions that’s how they went about the one off test now ODI when a country is going through so much in place off being supportive you want to take the only reason of happiness from them #CA.”

Rahmanullah Gurbaz, too, slammed the decision as a “shocking & unacceptable act of CA.”

In a counterstatement, the Afghanistan Cricket Board let know that they were “extremely disappointed and saddened” by a decision they described as “pathetic”. They added that they would be writing to the ICC about the issue.

“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.

“By prioritising political interests over the principles of fair play and sportsmanship, Cricket Australia is undermining the integrity of the game and damaging the relationship between the two nations.

“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.”

The ACB also reiterated the threat of its players to potentially boycott the BBL “unless the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan’s home series is not overturned.”

However, they still hope for the decision to be reversed: “Afghanistan Cricket Board has always been responsive and expressed its willingness to work together with Cricket Australia and other member boards including stakeholders; to find a solution that supports the development of the game in Afghanistan.”

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