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Rashid threatens to quit Big Bash over Afghan tour snub

Adelaide Strikers star Rashid Khan has threatened to quit playing in the BBL, highlighting Afghanistan’s furious response after Australia’s decision to cancel a men’s ODI series against them.

Rashid Khan could quit the Big Bash. Picture: Darren England/AAP

Rashid Khan could quit the Big Bash. Picture: Darren England/AAP

Rashid, the world’s pre-eminent white-ball player, said on Thursday he was “strongly considering” his future in the Australian T20 league over the issue.

Cricket Australia has decided to pull out its men’s team from the three-match series in the UAE, citing the Taliban’s ban on university education for girls in Afghanistan.

“I am really disappointed to hear that Australia have pulled out of the series to play us in March,” Rashid said in a statement.

“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.”

In a tweet to the accounts of Cricket Australia, the BBL and ACB officials, Rashid added: “Cricket! The only hope for the country. Keep politics out of it.”

The brilliant allrounder played eight matches for the Strikers this season before going to play in the SA20 league in South Africa.

Yet his threat not to play the BBL merely exemplified the anger from within the Afghan men’s game.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board called CA’s statement “pathetic”, saying it would write to the ICC over the issue and accusing the Australians of “prioritising political interests over the principles of fair play and sportsmanship”.

It also said Australia was “undermining the integrity of the game and damaging the relationship between the two nations” and reinforced Rashid’s stance by saying it would “rethink the participation of Afghan players in the Big Bash League” if CA did not overturn its decision.

Earlier, CA had announced it had made its decision about the men’s team’s withdrawal following consultation with the Australian government.

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It cited the recent announcement from the governing Taliban that it was banning university education for girls, a development the ICC’s Australian CEO Geoff Allardice had described as concerning.

If Afghan players do pull out of the BBL, it will leave a big gap to fill as players like Mohammad Nabi, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Qais Ahmad, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Izharulhaq Naveed and Naveen-ul-Haq have distinguished themselves in recent years.

Their T20I captain Rashid, though, has been their flagbearer at the Strikers, with over 400 runs and nearly 100 wickets to his name.

Naveen, who played for Sydney Sixers, added on Twitter that he wouldn’t take part in the BBL.

“Time to say won’t be participating in Big Bash after this until they stop these childish decisions,” he said.

“When a country is going through so much in place of being supportive you want to take the only reason of happiness from them.”

CA had previously cancelled an Afghanistan fixture over the Taliban government’s policies towards women, a one-off Test scheduled in November 2021.

Former Afghan white-ball international Aftab Alam responded on Twitter, saying: “Dear Cricket Australia! Cricket is a sport and it always separate from politics, that’s the 2nd time that cancelling the matches with ACB, it’s unfair that a cricket playing nation like Australia doing injustice like that.

“Our players are the beauty of your cricket #BBL.”

-AAP

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