Usman Khawaja reveals that he was racially abused during his growing years in Sydney, which compelled him to support other countries and filled him with resentment for Australian sports teams. Also, both the opponent players and their parents used to sledge him because he belonged to black colour.
The Pakistan-born 30-year-old Australia Test Batsman Usman Khawaja claimed to have faced racial abuse and revealed in a blog post that such abuse was prevalent on the playing field all through his junior days. Such sickening abuse forced many of his overseas-born friends to hold back their sporting ambitions.
"Getting sledged by opposition players and their parents was the norm. 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,” Khawaja wrote on the PlayersVoice website.
"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."
Khawaja is the first Muslim to play Test cricket for Australia and made a debut in 2010-11 Ashes. He has scored a total of 1,728 runs in his 24 Tests at an average of 45.47, and it is being expected that he will be selected at No. 3 for the upcoming Ashes series against England.
Moreover, the hard-edged Australia teams that he grew up watching did not appeal to him much and there were no players of colour in the squad.
"In hindsight, the fact we didn't support Australia is disappointing. Everything that was going on in our childhood and around us built up this resentment of the Australian cricket team. I mean, none of them looked like us.”
"I was brought up to be respectful, humble and polite. But when I watched the Aussie team, I saw men who were hard-nosed, confident, almost brutish. The same type of men who would sledge me about my heritage growing up."
However, Khawaja’s "strong-willed" family and his own competitive nature made him successful in making an international breakthrough. He said that racism disillusioned a number of aspiring and talented players.
"My point is this: it's no surprise it has taken Australia cricket so long for
"There is no doubt racism and politics played a large role in selections in the past.”
"I've heard a few stories from past Anglo-Saxon players where this seems to be the case. It would just be the times that they lived in. Certainly, cricket and society