‘Unfair and unexpected’: Rashid Khan, Afghanistan board respond to Australian boycott

Rashid Khan and his Afghanistan teammates have reacted strongly to Australia’s boycott of an upcoming series, labelling it as ‘unfair and expected’. 

Cricket Australia announced on Thursday afternoon that the scheduled three-match ODI series in March between the two sides would not go ahead, citing the introduction of further restrictions on women’s and girls’ education and employment opportunities by the Taliban.

Australia have rarely played against Afghanistan, with just three 50-over matches between the two sides and one T20 clash – during the recent World Cup – between the two sides.

The decision from CA has left a sour taste in the mouth of Afghan officials, with the board releasing their own statement reacting to the news.

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“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,” the statement said. 

“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.”

This is not the first time a potential Australia-Afghanistan clash has been cancelled, with a Test in 2021 called off following the Taliban invasion. 

The latest decision from CA has also caused disappointment among the Afghan players, who are threatening to boycott any future involvement in the Big Bash competition.

Headlining the list of vocal players on Thursday night was Khan, who has become a fan-favourite in Australia for the Adelaide Strikers, urging CA to keep politics away from the sport.

Khan’s teammates in the national side Najib Zadran, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Sharafuddin Ashraf have all condemned the decision, with one player describing it as ‘disgraceful’ in a social media post.

Australia are scheduled to play Afghanistan in a T20 series in August 2024 at a neutral venue, before hosting a multi-format series Down Under in 2026. 

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