Srinagar: Afghanistan’s superstar Rashid Khan and other players have lashed out at Cricket Australia for its decision of withdrawing from upcoming series against Afghanistan.
Earlier on Thursday, Australia announced that it is pulling out of an upcoming series against Afghanistan in the United Arab Emirates, citing Taliban moves to further restrict women’s rights, cricketers from the country are reacting strongly.
Afghanistan’s star cricketer Rashid Khan reacted strongly to it through his official Twitter handle stressing on the need to keep politics and sports away from eachother.
“Cricket! The only hope for the country. Keep politics out of it,” Rashid Khan Tweeted.
“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 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”, Rashid Khan statement read.
Other Afghanistan Cricketers have also strongly reacted to Australia pullout.
Afghan ODI and Test captain Hashmatullah Shahidi said, “fans and people of Afghanistan who have suffered immensely due to conflict… don’t want politics brought into sports”.
“Cricket is the most loved sport in the country and one of the main sources of happiness,” he said on Twitter, asking CA to reconsider its decision.
‘Only reason of happiness’
Pace bowler Naveen-ul-Haq has already suggested he would pull out of the Big Bash League where he plays for the Sydney Sixers.
“When a country is going through so much in place (of) being supportive you want to take the only reason of happiness from them,” Naveen ul Haq tweeted.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) in Kabul described Australia’s decision as “pathetic”. “The decision to withdraw… is unfair and unexpected and will have a negative impact,” the ACB said in a statement, which did not mention the shrinking of women’s rights in Afghanistan nor the Taliban’s ban on female sport.
The ACB said it would contact the International Cricket Council and was considering withdrawing its players from Australia’s domestic Big Bash League in retaliation. Cricket Australia (CA) said their decision was taken after talks with concerned parties that included the Australian government.
“This decision follows the recent announcement by the Taliban of further restrictions on women’s and girls’ education and employment opportunities and their ability to access parks and gyms,” it said in a statement. “CA is committed to supporting growing the game for women and men around the world, including in Afghanistan.
“(We) will continue to engage with the Afghanistan Cricket Board in anticipation of improved conditions for women and girls in the country,” it said.
The games against Afghanistan were part of the ICC Super League. Australia will forfeit 30 competition points for the series, which go towards World Cup qualification.
However, they have already secured automatic qualification for the 50-over tournament in India later this year.
The Taliban regained control of Kabul in August 2021 and quickly began placing restrictions on women’s participation in sport.