Image Courtesy: AP
Australia batsman Usman Khawaja is working with Cricket Australia (CA) to ensure more South Asian representation in his adopted country's cricketing ecosystem, about a decade after becoming the first Muslim to wear the baggy green following a brush with racism.
When Usman Khawaja made his international debut at the SCG, his home ground, in an Ashes Test in 2011, the top-order batter became the first Muslim and the first player of Pakistani descent to represent Australia.
Usman Khawaja has often spoken about the challenges he has faced in his quest to play top-level cricket in Australia. "It is a lot better now. I see a lot more cricketers coming up through state levels in Australia in particular that are from subcontinent backgrounds, which we really did not see when I came up, even when I played. I was playing domestic cricket and I was the only subcontinent player there. At the moment there's only probably myself and a few others", Usman Khawaja was quoted as saying in ESPNCricinfo.
"We're still a long way to go and I look at the England team and see the diversity they've had for a long time. They are an older nation than us, but I can see that diversity and think that's probably where Australia need to reach. We have definitely got better from when I was younger, but it's a generational shift too," he added.
"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'," the southpaw further added.
Usman Khawaja, who was born in Islamabad, moved to Australia with his family when he was five. In an international career spanning a decade, the Khawaja has represented Australia 44 Tests, 40 One Day Internationals, and, nine T20Is where he has amassed 2887, 1554, and, 241 runs respectively. He had last donned the Australian jersey in August 2019 and since then has not been in the scheme of things of the Australian selectors & team management.
(With PTI Inputs)