• Tuesday, February 07, 2023

CRICKET

Australia’s Pakistani-born cricketer Usman Khawaja opens up on racial discrimination; says he was called ‘curry muncher’

Australia cricketer Usman Khawaja (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

Allegations of racism in cricket are not new and now Australia batter Usman Khawaja, the first Muslim to play for that country, has spoken out on racial discrimination and name-calling that he experienced while growing up Down Under.

The 36-year-old left-hand batter, who has been an important member in Australia’s Test batting line-up, recently gave an interview to the Sydney Morning Herald where he revealed his less-than-pleasant experiences.

He particularly remembered the term “curry muncher” which was used to target young children, particularly from ethnic backgrounds.

The Pakistani-born Khawaja, who had migrated to Australia with his family at a young age, and went on to represent the Baggy Greens in 56 Tests, 40 one-day internationals, and nine T20 matches till date, told the newspaper, “I found that really hard growing up, and I think that bit of resentment still sticks with a lot of young kids, particularly from ethnic backgrounds, that always get called names and racially vilified. ‘Curry muncher’ is the one that sticks out to me the most. I used to get called that all the time.”

Khawaja, who made his Australia debut in 2011, also said that he was not selected in the team in his initial days because of his colour with the coaches and selectors preferring white players over him.

“At that high-performance level, you don’t realise it but a lot of the coaches [and] selectors are white. There’s subconscious bias. If you have two cricketers, one brown, one white, both the same, the white coach is going to pick the white cricketer just because he has a son that might look similar to him. It’s what’s familiar to him,” the cricketer, who recently blasted an unbeaten 195 against South Africa in a Test match in Sydney, added.

“There’s been plenty of times I should’ve been picked for teams and I wasn’t,” he was quoted as saying.

“But it just made me have a bigger chip on my shoulder,” he added.

In December, Khawaja, who averages almost 48 in Tests and has 15 international hundreds, took to Twitter and shared that he was stopped at a team hotel more than once asked whether he was a part of the Australian team.

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