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The Roar


Khawaja banner banned, Morris to be put on ice again, Marnus scans revealed, Johnson won't be shushed by Warner ton

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17th December, 2023
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A banner bearing the same messages that Usman Khawaja had written on his shoes has been taken down by security during the first Test between Australia and Pakistan at Optus Stadium.

The ICC forbade Khawaja from wearing shoes bearing the inscriptions “all lives are equal” and “freedom is a human right” on the field of play before the match.

The veteran opener had wanted to display the messages in the wake of the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Instead, he has worn a black arm ban and has taped over the writings on his shoes.

The issue resurfaced on Sunday when a patron who had displayed a banner with the same words caught the attention of security.

Measuring more than five metres in length, the banner was hung over the railing on the fifth level at the southern end of the venue. 

The patron drew further attention by chanting pro-Palestine slogans, with security quickly furling up the banner and escorting the man out of the stadium. Others people were also escorted out of the stadium.


“A sign was removed because it contravened Cricket Australia’s terms and conditions of entry,” Optus Stadium said in a statement. “Some patrons were removed because of antisocial behaviour, not because of the sign.”

Last summer, a banner reading “Justice for JL” was taken down by security during Australia’s Test clash with the West Indies at Optus Stadium. 

A group of young fans had unfurled the banner in support of Justin Langer, who quit as Australia coach after being offered only a six-month contract extension. The situation this time around was far more political, given the huge loss of lives in the Middle East.

On the eve of the Test against Pakistan, Khawaja took to social media to explain why he had chosen to speak out about the innocent loss of lives. “This is close to my heart,” Khawaja said on social media. 

“When I see thousands of innocent children dying without any repercussions or remorse, I imagine my two girls. What if this was them? No one chooses where they’re born.”

Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Todd Greenberg said Khawaja had handled the controversy over his shoes in a professional and mature manner.


He said the ACA would support Khawaja’s bid to gain ICC approval to wear the shoes in future matches.

“I get a sense that some people in broader society like to see athletes and profile people provide opinions, but only when those opinions agree with them,” Greenberg told SEN.

“I think it’s much better to see people who are authentic, like Uzzie is. If he wants to push a particular cause, then we’ll support him. We want our athletes to be heroes. We want people to look up to them.

“And to do that, we need them to be authentic and we need them to be that regularly and consistently, not just on the simple issues, but maybe more importantly on the more difficult ones.”

Morris to be kept on ice

Unless one of the fast bowlers pulls up sore leading into the Boxing Day Test, young tearaway Lance Morris is almost certain to be put on ice until the West Indies series next month, perhaps longer.

None of the Australian players ever want to be rested from a Test and they will definitely not be given the SCG match off given that it will be opener David Warner’s farewell appearance in the baggy green cap.


Unleashing Morris at the MCG would give him a smooth entry into Test cricket against a Pakistan side coming off a 360-run flogging in Perth.

However, after being an unused reserve all last summer, he’s set to miss out again on Boxing Day with Australia likely to roll out an unchanged XI after Marnus Labuschagne was back in the nets on Sunday making sure his finger was OK.

“I don’t think injuries are going to be an issue, so I dare say it will be a pretty similar line-up at this stage,” skipper Pat Cummins said of the XI who will play in the Boxing Day Test.

“I think all the bowlers are pretty fresh after (the win in Perth). It’s basically the ideal start to the summer.”

Scans cleared Labuschagne of a fracture following a nasty blow on his right little finger from debutant paceman Khurram Shahzad during his brief innings on Saturday.

The Australian team announced he was able to bat unhindered during his net session and was in no doubt for the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan at the MCG.

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)


“An X-ray taken last night did not demonstrate any visible fracture. Marnus was able to bat unhindered in the nets this morning,” a Cricket Australia spokesperson said.

Labuschagne has been well below his best in 2023, hitting just one century, and fell cheaply in both innings at Perth.

Steve Smith sustained two painful blows late on day three while Usman Khawaja required medical treatment after being struck just below his right elbow by a 136km/h Aamir Jamal delivery in the morning session on Sunday.

A sizeable bump soon formed on Khawaja’s arm, but he bravely batted on.

Pakistan will have the chance to iron out their kinks during a two-day tour match against Victoria at the Junction Oval, starting Friday.

The match will give Marcus Harris another chance to push his case to replace the retiring David Warner later this summer, while Peter Handscomb and Will Pucovski are also set to play.

Starc, Carey beat Lyon in milestone race


All the talk leading into Sunday’s play was about Nathan Lyon needing one more wicket to become the third Australian to 500 Test wickets but Mitchell Starc notched a milestone of his own before the spinner even got the ball in his hand.

Starc became just the fifth bowler to chalk up 200 Test wickets in Australia when he removed Abdullah Shafique for two after giving him a thorough workout in the first over over the second innings.

The four all-time greats ahead of him in the overall tally of Australian Test wicket-takers are the only other members of the 200 Club Down Under – Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Lyon and Dennis Lillee.

That first wicket for Starc presented Alex Carey with his 100th Test dismissal in his 26th Test.

But as nice as those milestones were, they were overshadowed by Lyon’s removal of Faheem Ashraf, trapped LBW after a video review, to become the eighth player in Test history to bag 500 wickets.

After being plucked out of relative obscurity to make his Test debut in Sri Lanka in 2011, Lyon has become Australia’s greatest offspinner across 123 matches.


He is a chance to surpass McGrath’s mark of 563 if he opts to play on into the coming years; the offspinner has previously flagged his desire to feature in a winning away Ashes series, with the next one scheduled for 2027. Lyon would be 39 by that stage.

Formidable West Indies quick Courtney Walsh (519) is next in his sights on the leaderboard.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 17: Fans watch the final session during day four of the Men's First Test match between Australia and Pakistan at Optus Stadium on December 17, 2023 in Perth, Australia (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Fans watch the final session during day four of the First Test at Optus Stadium. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Johnson won’t be shushed by Warner ton

Mitchell Johnson wasn’t surprised by David Warner’s first-innings heroics against Pakistan, but stands by his view Australia would have been better served replacing the opener for the series.

Johnson lit the fuse of an explosive debate two weeks ago when he said the retiring Warner didn’t deserve a farewell series due to his poor form over the past three years and involvement in the 2018 Sandpapergate scandal.

Warner hit back by scoring 164 against Pakistan in the first Test in Perth on Thursday.


Upon reaching triple figures – for just the second time in a Test since January 2020 – Warner made a shushing gesture towards the Optus Stadium media centre.

The under-fire opener said his celebration was for anyone “who wants to write stories about me and try to get headlines”.

Johnson said the way Warner reacted to criticism reminded him of former England star Kevin Pietersen.

“Warner may have denied he cares about criticism of his form, but it definitely does drive him as shown in his performance in the first innings,” Johnson wrote in The West Australian.

“That sort of atmosphere is something Warner revels in and he is a bit like Kevin Pietersen was in that regard.

“Pietersen loved it when someone had a go at him on or off the field, he enjoyed the challenge and got up and about and I think it’s the same with Dave.”

David Warner celebrates his century against Pakistan.

David Warner celebrates his century against Pakistan. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Warner was out for a duck in the second innings, but his memorable opening-day century is set to ensure he makes it all the way through to his chosen farewell Test at the SCG.

Johnson stood by his criticism from two weeks ago, again highlighting Warner’s lack of runs across a three-year period.

He also felt Australia missed a golden opportunity to blood new players into an ageing team during a “soft summer”, rather than waiting for upcoming home series against England and India.

“They could have given some new guys some really good time out in the middle this summer and backed them in,” Johnson said.

“That’s going to be much harder across the next two summers when India and England visit for five-Test series.”

Former Test captain Ian Chappell believes Warner has done enough to earn his retirement parade at his home Test next month, writing in a column for ESPNcricinfo that “currently there is no one on the horizon who is even close to Warner’s value to the team”.


“Whether you love or hate Warner, you should never underestimate his value to Australian cricket. Warner is a rare gem and Australia have been lucky to have his services in a long and distinguished career.”

with AAP