Rashid Khan calls for peace for Afghanistan amid Taliban advance

Afghan cricketer stars ask world leaders to help to avoid the country being plunged into chaos

Trent Rockets' Rashid Khan during The Hundred match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. Picture date: Friday August 13, 2021.
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Afghanistan’s leading cricketers have reiterated their calls for peace, as the Kabul government prepares to hand over power to the Taliban.

Rashid Khan, the country’s most famous player and the captain of its T20 side, is presently in the UK playing in The Hundred.

On Sunday afternoon, he took to Twitter to write the simple message “peace”, followed by a series of Afghan flags.

In recent days, he had asked for donations to his foundation to help those affected by the situation, and had implored world leaders to help.

“My country is in chaos,” he wrote. “Thousand of innocent people, including children and women, get martyred every day, houses and properties being [destroyed].

“Thousand families displaced. Don’t leave us in chaos. Stop killing Afghans and destroying Afghanistan. We want peace.”

The country have had a remarkable rise in cricket since the Taliban government was overthrown in 2001. In the same year, Afghanistan first became members of the International Cricket Council.

The national cricket team – whose patron-in- chief is President Ashraf Ghani - had its roots in exile.

Refugees who learnt the sport while displaced across the border in Pakistan were the core of the side that has risen apace in international cricket over the past two decades.

Having started out in the lowest tier of the game in 2008, alongside the likes of Jersey, Botswana and Bahamas, Afghanistan are now firmly established among the world’s elite.

Although the immediate future for the country is unclear, the national cricket team are due to feature in the T20 World Cup, to be played in the UAE and Oman in October and November.

The team have had one series – against Australia – postponed, although they are still due to face Pakistan in Sri Lanka ahead of the World Cup.

One of the pioneering players from the first Afghan national team, Mohammed Nabi, is – like Rashid Khan – now a global star of the sport.

Nabi moved to Ajman earlier this year, and is currently in the UK for the Hundred. Like Rashid, he has also directed fans to his foundation in recent days.

Last week, he wrote: “As an Afghan, I bleed to see where my beloved country is today.

“Afghanistan descends into chaos and there has been a substantial rise in calamity and tragedy and is currently in humanitarian crisis. Families are forced to leave their homes behind and head to Kabul with an unknown future, as their homes are being seized.

“I appeal to the leaders of the world; please don't let Afghanistan go into chaos. We need your support. We want peace.”

Updated: August 16, 2021, 4:24 AM