Stars import Zahir pushes Afghan cause

Scott Bailey
·2-min read

Melbourne Stars import Zahir Khan hopes world cricket doesn't get away from Afghanistan during the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasising their need to play more Tests.

Zahir will play his first Big Bash game of the summer in Saturday night's grand-final rematch with the Sydney Sixers, almost four weeks after starting an extended stay in hotel quarantine.

The left-arm legspinner is well aware this is months after he thought his summer in Australia would start.

The pandemic has hit at a bad time for Afghanistan cricket and the country is one of just two Test playing nations not to have featured in any format of the game since March.

In that time, one-off Tests against Ireland and Australia have been called off, with the latter now scheduled for the start of next summer.

"Everyone in Afghanistan is very excited about that Test," Zahir told AAP.

"It's hard. Because like every player we need high standard of games against every big team.

"Because our team doesn't have that much experience in Test cricket, so we need more games in Tests.

"We're excited to play in 2021. We have some games against Zimbabwe, Ireland and Australia.

"So there are some Tests coming and hopefully no games are cancelled."

Afghanistan's team includes household BBL names Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Zahir.

They do have an ODI series against Ireland next month, meaning Zahir's time in the Big Bash could be truncated if selected.

He also could have started playing earlier, if not for having to restart his quarantine after Mujeeb tested positive to the virus after three days in quarantine.

"It felt like a long time in there," Zahir said.

"When (Mujeeb's) test came back positive someone called me from health and said you have to do three more days because you met with Mujeeb.

"So I said 'okay, no problems. It's very hard but the rule is the rule'.

"I just enjoyed the time with the home gym. Otherwise I was just sitting there waiting to finish."

The 22-year-old will, however, enjoy some head start this year.

He believes he learned a lot from bowling on Australian wickets last summer, taking eight wickets and going at just 6.58 per over for the Brisbane Heat.

He in turn became a key signing for coach David Hussey's Stars after a strong Caribbean Premier League.

"We signed him as one of the world's best legspinners," Hussey said.

"He bowls a lot of googlies and most importantly tries to take wickets all the time which fits the Stars' mould.

"He plays to take wickets and celebrate in style."