Off The Field

I’d get told I’m not the right skin colour: Khawaja on racism in Australian cricket

Written by Abhishek Patil

When Usman Khawaja made his International debut at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in 2011, in the Ashes Test, he became the first Muslim cricketer to represent Australia.

The 34-year-old, who has played 44 Test matches for Australia, made shocking revelations about facing racism in his adopted country after he came Down Under from Pakistan in the early 1990s.

In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, he said: “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.”

Khawaja, who was born in Islamabad, moved to Australia with his family when he was five years old. Khawaja’s involvement with the Australian cricket team has turned his family into Australia fans.

“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.

“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.

About the author

Abhishek Patil