Rashid Khan backs down from Big Bash League ‘boycott’ threat

Afghanistan spinner bowler Rashid Khan has u-turned on his decision to boycott Australia’s Big Bash League and is listed for the upcoming Overseas Player Draft.

In January, Rashid claimed he was “strongly considering” his future in the BBL after Cricket Australia withdrew from a three-match ODI series against Afghanistan in the United Arab Emirates.

Cricket Australia pulled out of the white-ball series, initially scheduled for March, in response to the Taliban’s restrictions against women and girls – especially regarding education and work.

Since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in August 2021, women and girls have also been barred from taking part in sport, which also means Afghanistan remains the only ICC full member nation without a women’s team.

At the time, Cricket Australia also threatened to contact the International Cricket Council (ICC) about prohibiting players from Afghanistan from participating in the BBL.

Rashid, who is No. 1 on the ICC Men’s T20I bowling rankings, said at the time he was “really disappointed” with Cricket Australia’s decision to cancel the ODI series, and indicated he would boycott the Big Bash in protest.

“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,” Rashid posted on X, formerly Twitter, in January.

“If playing vs Afghanistan is so uncomfortable for Australia then I wouldn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable with my presence in the BBL.”

However, it appears Rashid has had a change of heart as Australia’s media, along with Cricket Australia, have said he will be one of the nominations for this year’s draft. Cricketing experts also say it looks like Adelaide Strikers will once again retain him as their top pick.

Fellow Afghan cricketers Izharulhaq Naveed, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Shafiqullah Ghafari will also be eligible for selection in the Draft on Sunday, September 3.