Usman Khawaja revealed that many told him that he would never make it at the top because of his skin colour, as he revealed having faced racism during his early days as a cricketer.
Usman Khawaja became the first Muslim cricketer to play for Australia at the highest level when he made his Test debut in the 2011 Ashes. His achievements inspired several others like him to take up the sport as a profession but the batsman’s journey to the top wasn’t the easiest.
Usman Khawaja Revealed The Ordeal He Went During Early Days
Usman Khawaja, who came to Australia from Pakistan in the 1990s, did face racism during his early days and was even told that he would never make it to the national team. In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, he revealed the ordeal he went through during those days.
“When I was younger in Australia, the amount of time I got told I was never going to play for Australia, I’m not the right skin colour was immense. I’d get told I don’t fit the team, and they wouldn’t pick me. That was the mentality, but now it’s starting to shift.”, he said.
Australia has a decent population of people from the sub-continent. Seeing Usman Khawaja rise through the ranks, many came up to him and praised him for taking the path despite it being a route of extreme resistance.
“When I started being more involved in cricket, people with subcontinent heritage in Australia came up to me and said, “we’re so happy to see you at the top. Seeing someone like you, we feel we’ve got a part in the Australian team, and we support the Australian team. We didn’t do it before, and we do it now,” said Khawaja.
Born in Pakistan, Usman Khawaja moved with his family to Australia when he was a young boy, and in the 2011 Sydney Ashes Test became the first Muslim to play for Australia.
A classy left-hander in the languid style of David Gower, Usman Khawaja won further Test opportunities from 2011 to 2013 but never quite kicked on beyond his regularly appealing starts. Dropped during the 2013 Ashes, he earned another recall in 2015 for the home series against New Zealand following the retirements of Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers.
Usman Khawaja Initially Didn’t Support Australia But Has Played 44 Tests, 40 ODIs And 9 T20Is For Australia
The Islamabad-born even admitted that he didn’t support Australia (in cricket) in the beginning as he didn’t quite connect with the team then. It took him time to adapt before he could leave his background behind and be what he is at present.
“And that kept happening over and over and over again. The more that happened, I realised my background does matter, and it does make a difference. And then I realised from my childhood it probably took me a while to support Australia. I didn’t really support Australia when I first went [from Pakistan] because I didn’t really get it,” he added.
Usman Khwaja had since played 44 Test, 40 ODI and 9 T20I matches for Australia. The 34-year-old left-hander may be recalled to the Australian team. Usman Khawaja, who has scored 2877 runs in 44 Tests at an average of 40.66, has not played for Australia since August 2019. His last T20I came in 2016 and his last ODI was in July 2019 during World Cup.
But Usman Khawaja’s subcontinent demons were finally put to rest in the UAE in 2018 when he made an epic match-saving century against Pakistan in Dubai. He became Australia’s most senior batsman while Steve Smith and David Warner were banned following the ball-tampering scandal and settled himself in the ODI team with two outstanding tours of India and the UAE in 2019, making his first two ODI centuries to ensure selection in the 2019 World Cup squad.