Afghanistan star Rashid Khan issues Big Bash League quit threat as Australia cancel ODI series in protest

Quit threat: Rashid Khan  (Getty Images)
Quit threat: Rashid Khan (Getty Images)

Afghanistan superstar Rashid Khan says he will “strongly consider his future” in the Big Bash League as the row over Australia’s withdrawal from the two countries’ ODI series intensifies.

Cricket Australia announced on Thursday morning that they would not play in the three-match series, due to take place in March, after the Taliban imposed an indefinite ban on university education for women in Afghanistan.

It is the second time Australia have cancelled a bilateral fixture against Afghanistan, having pulled the plug on a one-off Test in November 2021, soon after the Taliban retook power following the US withdrawal.

Khan is the No1-ranked T20 bowler in the world and one of franchise cricket’s biggest draws. Since 2017, the spinner has regularly featured for the Adelaide Strikers in Australia’s flagship domestic competition, the Big Bash, though he has already departed this year’s edition to play for MI Cape Town in the new SA20 league in South Africa.

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In a statement on Twitter, Khan, who was last month re-appointed as Afghanistan’s T20 captain, said: “Cricket! The only hope for our country. Keep politics out of it”.

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

As well as banning women from higher education, the Taliban have also prohibited access to some sports facilities such as parks and gyms. Afghanistan are the only full ICC member nation not to have a functioning women’s team, despite that being among the key criteria for the status. ICC chief Geoff Allardice has acknowledged that the situation is "a concern" and is due to be discussed at the body's next board meeting in March, with Afghanistan's men's team currently free to take part in ICC events.

Earlier, The Afghanistan Cricket Board said it was "extremely disappointed and saddened" by the cancellation of the Australia series.

"Cricket Australia's decision to withdraw ... is coming after consultation and potential enforcement from the Australian Government which is an unfortunate attempt to enter the realm of politics and politicize the sport," the ACB said.

"By prioritizing 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 ... 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."