Australia Prime Minister praises Usman Khawaja’s courage amid ICC saga

Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has praised Usman Khawaja‘s courage in fighting to show solidarity with victims of warfare during the Test series with Pakistan.

Since the days before last month’s series opener, Khawaja has been lobbying to voice his support for those affected by ongoing conflict in the Middle East, first by writing “all lives are equal” and “freedom is a human right” on his shoes.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) barred Khawaja from displaying the phrases during the Perth Test on the grounds that international players are prohibited from wearing personal messages on their uniforms.

The veteran opening batter eventually taped over the messages, but the ICC charged him for breaching clothing and equipment regulations with the black armband he wore instead.

Khawaja did not wear the armband in the second Test at the MCG from Boxing Day and had hoped to display a dove holding an olive branch on his bat, but this too was banned by the ICC.

Khawaja, who has received widespread support from current and former Test players, wrote the names of his daughters on his shoes in the MCG Test in place of the original messages.

Mr Albanese made mention of Khawaja on Monday as he addressed the Australian and Pakistani teams at Kirribilli House during his annual New Year’s Day reception before the SCG Test.

“I’d like to congratulate [Khawaja] for the courage he has shown standing up for human values,” Mr Albanese said. “He has shown courage, and the fact that the team has backed him in is a great thing.”

This week’s Test match will be Khawaja’s last batting with opening partner David Warner, who is hanging up his baggy green at the conclusion of the match, which begins on Wednesday.

“When Ussie and Dave go out, it will be a very special moment, when you walk on to the SCG,” Mr Albanese said.

The pair of childhood friends have formed a formidable duo at the top of the order since Khawaja’s recall to the Test team during the home Ashes series two summers ago

Warner became emotional speaking about Khawaja in his pre-match press conference on Monday.

“Just to see him come back the way he has the last two years has been absolutely amazing,” Warner said. “I know his family are really, really proud of him. I’m really, really proud of him as a mate.

“When you’re childhood friends dreaming big and you get to go out here at the SCG, it’s fitting.”

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