Left-handed batsman Usman Khawaja has called out the ongoing racism issues in Australian cricket.
Khawaja was born in Pakistan and had moved to Australia with his family when he was five. The 33-year-old has so far played 93 international matches.
Khawaja revealed that the perception of him being a ‘lazy’ cricketer is there because of his background.
“I always had that ‘lazy’ undertone when I was growing up, and I think part of that was my relaxed nature, but part of it was also because I was Pakistani, and subcontinent people were seen as lazy, not doing the hard yards and whatnot,” said Khawaja as quoted by cricketc.com.au.
“Running has never been natural to me, so when we used to do lots of fitness testing, I wasn’t as good as everyone else. When you put that against where I was from, that did play against me. I like to think we’re starting to move on from that, but there’s definitely still that undertone … I still hear (similar stereotypes), if someone’s a bit different,” he added.
Still a long way to go for sub-continent cricketers: Khawaja
Khawaja expressed that sub-continent cricketers haven’t yet made it big for Australian cricket and they have a long way to go.
“The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realised that when it comes to diversity — especially in cricket in general — I think we’ve been OK at it, but we’re still just not quite there. If you look at the landscape in terms of multicultural cricketers around, we’ve got a few subcontinental cricketers — myself, Gurinder (Sandhu), Arjun Nair, Jason Sangha and Tanveer Sangha coming up through the ranks … (but) we’ve still got a long way to go,” the Queensland captain added further.
Khawaja, who has ten international centuries to his name, wished to see Australian cricket producing more role models who can be looked upon by the kids from different cultural backgrounds.
“When you come from a subcontinental family — all of Asia, really — studying is very important. My mum wanted me to stop playing cricket and study, and that happens a lot to guys my age coming through the ranks.”
“Generally with the subcontinent community I know how important that is to mums and dads, so we need to emphasise that, especially with technology these days and studying from a distance, there’s no reason why you can’t do both, so long as you have the discipline and you’re prepared to make a lot of sacrifices along the way.”
“Kids need to be given support; we need to talk openly and let them know that, ‘Hey, you’re not the only person going through this, we’ve been through this, we’ve seen this, we’ve dealt with it, and we’ve pushed on. You can do the same thing,” concluded Khawaja.