Rashid may quit BBL over Afghan tour snub

The BBL star said he would be "strongly considering my future in that competition" after Australia withdrew from an ODI series against Afghanistan

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, one of the world's pre-eminent white-ball players who has starred for the Adelaide Strikers, said on Thursday he was "strongly considering" his future in the Australian T20 league over the issue.

Cricket Australia has decided to withdraw its men's team from the three-match series in the UAE, citing the Taliban's ban on women and girls' education and employment in Afghanistan. CA stated the decision to opt out of the tour was made in consultation with the Australian government.

Responding to the comments on Friday afternoon, Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley said it was “clearly a very challenging and sad situation”.

“We did not take this decision lightly and consulted widely including with our Government,” Hockley said.

“We were hopeful of playing the series and have been in regular dialogue with the Afghanistan Cricket Board, however announcements by the Taliban in late November and late December signalling the deterioration of basic human rights for women in Afghanistan led to our decision to withdraw from these games. Basic human rights is not politics.”

Afghanistan remain the only ICC full member nation without a women's team, and will be the only full member without a side at the inaugural Women’s U19 T20 World Cup starting on Saturday.

"I am really disappointed to hear that Australia have pulled out of the series to play us in March," Rashid said in his 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 social media post 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 leg-spinner played eight matches for the Strikers this season before going to play in the SA20 league in South Africa and wasn't expected to return to Australia this season.

He has previously voiced support for women in his country since the Taliban takeover.

"We acknowledge and applaud Rashid Khan’s and other Afghanistan cricketers’ comments at the time condemning the Taliban’s decision to ban women from universities. Rashid will always be welcome in the BBL," Hockley said.

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.

ICC CEO Geoff Allardice has said recent developments in Afghanistan were “concerning”, and confirmed the issue would be raised at its next meeting.

Afghan players such as Mohammad Nabi, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Qais Ahmad, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Izharulhaq Naveed and Naveen-ul-Haq have featured in the BBL over 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.

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

The Taliban seized control of the Asian nation in September 2021 and immediately placed restrictions on female participation in sport, which CA condemned.