Does this even surprise anyone? For the longest time, most of us would know how white Australian cricket is. Like, of course there are the few South Asian Australians who make the team, but for the most part it is not very culturally diverse.
This is the sentiment expressed by Usman Khawaja, who is a top order and opening batter on the Australian team. Khawaja who has a Pakistani cultural background recently told The Age in an interview that growing up he found it difficult to support the Australian team, because he couldn’t relate.
I didn’t support Australia for a long time, up until I was 13 or 14. I just could not relate to the Australian cricket team.
When I looked at the TV, I saw these really brash, really stubborn, beer-drinking white Australians that were the same kind of guys racially vilifying me while I was playing cricket.
Khawaja has played more than 100 international games for Australia – 56 of which were test matches, with his batting average higher than the known cricket legends – Adam Gilchrist, David Warner, Justin Langer, Michael Slater, Ian Chappell and Mark Waugh. However, his name isn’t uttered as much as these other legends, and the question is why. Of course we all know the answer to this.
A lot of the issues come from the colonial history of cricket but also on how Australia has always belittled and marginalised people of colour – it is a common theme across the board in just about every sector and sport and more specifically cricket is one of those.
Khawaja was asked in the interview whether things have and/or will change since he has broken through. His answer is a not really. He tells The Age:
You see cricketers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, everywhere at a young level. But as you get up at a high-performance level, it just drops exponentially. It just drops, drops, drops.
That’s where I’m trying to work with Cricket Australia saying, ‘Look, guys … you invest a lot of money into this, but something’s not going right. You’ve been doing it for 10 years and nothing’s changed.
What do you all think?
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