Although racism in sport should ideally have no space, it happens to be a harsh reality and something which keeps popping up again and again. And this time an incident has been brought to light by Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja. Notably, when Khawaja made his debut in the 2011 Ashes at the Sydney Cricket Ground, he became the first Muslim player to have ever represented the Australian team.
It was in the early 1990s that he had moved to Australia from Pakistan with his family in search of a better life but now he has revealed how he experienced racism Down Under. Khawaja disclosed that he was told that he isn’t of the right colour and will never be able to play for the national team.
“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,” the left-handed batter told ESPNCricinfo.
People with subcontinent heritage supported me when I was at the top, says Khawaja
The 34-year-old said that the Australian batsman had moved from his birthplace Islamabad to Australia when he was 5-year-old and thus people started supporting him when he climbed up the ladders.
“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,” added Khawaja.
At last, he said that he gradually realised how much background matters to people which he didn’t know during his childhood.