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The Roar


'The boys have my back': Khawaja reveals how much Cummins' champagne gesture meant to him

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17th January, 2022
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Pat Cummins has received widespread praise for his inclusive and classy act to allow Muslim Usman Khawaja to partake in Australia’s podium celebration after their 4-0 Ashes win.

As the Aussies went to spray champagne – a time honoured podium tradition across sports – Khawaja excused himself from the podium.

Cummins made sure the bubbles were put away and Khawaja was able to return for the team’s celebration photos.

“Usman is obviously Muslim so he doesn’t like the champagne being thrown so I just made sure he got up there and no champagne thrown,” Cummins said when asked about it later.

Khawaja is a Muslim, a faith in which the consumption of alcohol is forbidden and any association with it is frowned-upon.

The moment clearly moved Khawaja, who tweeted: “If this video doesn’t show you that the boys have my back, I don’t know what will. They stopped their normal champagne celebrations so I could rejoin. Inclusivity in the game and our values as a sport are so important. I feel like we are trending in the right direction.”


The move was similar to one made by former England skipper Alastair Cook in 2018, when they were celebrating a Test success and about to pop the champagne corks.

Cook noticed Moeen Ali was standing away from his colleagues as he did not want to be involved due to his faith.

“This might be a small gesture but this is what makes Pat Cummins great,” one fan wrote. “He realised Khawaja had to dip because of the booze and rectifies it.”

Another added: “Pat Cummins asking his teammates to stop throwing alcohol around so that Usman Khawaja can join in because of his beliefs. That’s sweet.”

Cricket writer Dan Brettig tweeted:


Cummins had a dream start to his captaincy reign and said he felt he was only going to improve.

“I’m in the team as a bowler. I want to make sure that’s protected and I’m able to perform as well as I’d like. I think with each game, I felt better at managing that.”

Cummins leant on deputy and former skipper Steve Smith to set fields and said he was able to “switch off” as captain when bowling.

“I could really … take off the captain’s hat and just be a bowler for my overs,” he said.

“Even little things around bowling changes, setting fields in between overs. As I felt like I got better at managing that as the series went on.

“That’s a hugely pleasing thing. Again, it might be difficult in the heat for longer innings. But I feel like it’s something I’m only going to get better at.”


That extra heat will come in March when Australia embark on a three-Test tour of Pakistan.

Cummins has previously said he doesn’t see himself captaining for the remainder of his career.

“For sure, there’s more scrutiny. But in terms of the actual role on the field, and conversations around the change room and those kinds of things, it is manageable,” he said after taking match figures of 7-87 at Bellerive Oval.

“It’s probably not as all-encompassing as I perhaps might have thought when I first took it on.

“But again, I think the biggest challenge is going to be ahead.

“We’re lucky. We live in an age where we’ve got incredible support staff around who take a lot of those stresses out of what a traditional captain might have had around strategy, man management, those kinds of things.”

(With AAP)