Khawaja: Racial sledging made me stronger



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    Test cricketer Usman Khawaja has revealed how being racially vilified when he was younger led him to support other countries in international sporting contests and not Australia.

    Khawaja was born in Pakistan but settled in Australia with his parents and two older brothers when he was five years-old.

    During high school he says he was regularly called a “F—ing curry muncher”. Playing cricket and working his way up through the grades wasn’t any better.

    “Getting sledged by opposition players and their parents was the norm,” Khawaja told the website.

    “Some of them said it just quietly enough for only me to hear. It still hurt, but I would never show it. Most of the time it was when I scored runs. Some parents take things too seriously.

    “It is for this reason why so many of my friends, most of whom were born outside Australia, didn’t support Australia in sporting contests. I didn’t either.

    “Especially in cricket. It was either West Indies, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka. Anyone else. It’s probably why Brian Lara was my favourite cricketer.”

    But the 30-year-old, who made his Australian debut in the 2011 Sydney Test and has played 24 Tests with a batting average of 45.47, said both cricket and society have matured.

    “So many times I was told by other sub continental parents, ‘You will never make it, you’re not the right skin colour’. No joke,” he said.

    “That might have been true in some respects in past eras and generations, but it just drove me more to prove them all wrong.

    “Now subcontinental parents can see a future for their kids, at a younger age. It isn’t about making a choice – study or cricket – like my Mum wanted me to do,” Khawaja added.

    “And I can see it, in the domestic cricketers of all ages that are coming through now, compared to when I started playing and was the only Asian player at first class level in the whole country.

    “Now we have Gurinder Sandhu, who is a close friend of mine from Sydney Thunder and represented Australia. Another youngster from the Thunder is Arjun Nair, an excellent young, up-and-coming player.

    “Being racially vilified actually made me stronger in many respects,” he said.

    “So why is there an emergence of multi race players now in Australia? Maybe it was inevitable with the growing multicultural community in Australia. Maybe it was a few friendly faces at the highest level. We will never know.

    “What I do know is Australian cricket is slowly changing and will finally have a chance to reflect what Australia really is.

    “An international team truly representative of its richly diverse population.”

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (19)

    • October 10th 2017 @ 8:54am
      jameswm said | October 10th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      Racially sledged by opposition parents? Wow.

      I guess that was 15-20 years ago and Ussie says times have changed. Hopefully the parent would be called out and made to answer for something like that now.

      A lot of us (like me) forget he was a bit of a pioneer.

      He’s 30 now with a lot of support, hopefully he can have a good 5-6 years more of test cricket.

      • October 10th 2017 @ 5:42pm
        Ross said | October 10th 2017 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

        Fantastic piece and very honest writing from khawja who shows how far we have come as a nation. Khawaja continues to be a a great example on and off the field

    • October 10th 2017 @ 9:26am
      Paul said | October 10th 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

      Obviously racial sledging in cricket needs to stamped out, not only in Australia, but across all cricketing countries. It then begs the question, what sledging is deemed to be acceptable and when is a sledge deemed to be “racist”? It’s impossible to stop players from having a chat”, nor should it be stopped, but at what point does a player cross the line?

      Good luck to officials trying to sort that out.

      • October 10th 2017 @ 7:02pm
        DavSA said | October 10th 2017 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

        Paul ,I do believe we all know if we are uttering racist expletives or not.

    • Roar Guru

      October 10th 2017 @ 10:04am
      BigJ said | October 10th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

      I am actually happy that this fella used the old “stick and Stones” mentally and did not let the stupidity of the public get to him. But then again it was back in the 1990’s and that was not racism back then (hence the 12th man was funny in those days in probably be considered extremely racist these days”). Sledging is apart of sport and especially cricket, it makes the players more aggressive and makes for a better game, that’s sledging not racist comments (there is a very fine line its important not to cross it). But if people stopped being so sensitive and did let words get to them, things would be better, like back in the 90’s. Somebody calls you something, in cricket you bowl them out, or in footy just hard then harder.

      • October 10th 2017 @ 12:15pm
        jameswm said | October 10th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        12th man stuff done as humour is not the same as a racial sledge done to unsettle or upset.

        Ask Ussie if he finds the 12th man funny, and there’s your answer. Watch Have You Been Paying Attention – they all sledge and racially sledge each other, in good humour, and no one takes offence. Sam Pang cops it all night, but he does give back. .

        • October 10th 2017 @ 5:43pm
          Ross said | October 10th 2017 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

          Racism in the 90s was worse and we have come a long way since then, and by getting through khawaja has given so many youngsters from immigrant background hope to one day play for Australia

        • Roar Guru

          October 10th 2017 @ 6:35pm
          The Bush said | October 10th 2017 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

          You reckon the 12th Man could be done these days though jameswm?

    • Roar Guru

      October 10th 2017 @ 10:18am
      Edward L'Orange said | October 10th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

      Speaks well, Khawaja.

    • Roar Guru

      October 10th 2017 @ 12:58pm
      Paul D said | October 10th 2017 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

      I routinely see mild mannered social cricketers turn into abusive angry men when playing against a team of guys from the subcontinent. Always interesting to observe.

      Well done Uzzie. If he’s not picked at 3 for this summer against England the selectors have rocks in their head

      • October 10th 2017 @ 5:44pm
        Ross said | October 10th 2017 @ 5:44pm | ! Report

        Lehman rightly said that khawaja is a lock for 3, and he got 85 against Victoria on the weekend so some good form to back that confidence too

    • October 10th 2017 @ 1:32pm
      Jan said | October 10th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

      What if Indian players behave badly towards Aussis. ‘Seeing them off’ etc. is that racial

      • October 10th 2017 @ 5:46pm
        Ross said | October 10th 2017 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

        Indian players act like they do because they know Aussies want to earn in the IPL, that has nothing to do with the racism khawaja has faced all his life

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