Usman Khawaja Displays Solidarity: Wears Black Armband in Test Match

Khawaja’s silent protest: Opting for a black armband after controversy over shoe messages. Explore his statement during the Pakistan Test match.

During the first Test against Pakistan at Optus Stadium, veteran Australian opener Usman Khawaja, denied the opportunity to display messages of solidarity with Gaza on his shoes, instead donned a black armband on Thursday.

Opting to bat first, Khawaja covered the written messages on his shoes and wore a black armband as he walked out to open the innings alongside David Warner. Cricket Australia confirmed that Khawaja wore the armband in solidarity, as conveyed in his social media post from the previous day.

Earlier, Khawaja had words like ‘all lives are equal’ and ‘freedom is a human right’ inscribed on his shoes during Australia’s practice session. Cricket Australia had released a statement emphasizing their support for players’ expression of personal opinions but pointed out ICC regulations that prohibit the display of such messages.

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Expressing his disappointment, Usman Khawaja took to social media and aired his grievances, highlighting the inconsistency in ICC rulings regarding personal messages. “There have been precedents set in the past. I fully support Black Lives Matter. Many players have written on their shoes before. Some have religious references, which technically breach ICC guidelines, but the ICC hasn’t intervened in those cases. It’s a bit disheartening they’ve taken a firm stance against me while not always doing so with others,” Khawaja expressed on Fox Cricket ahead of the Test match.

Mike Baird, the Chairman of Cricket Australia, reiterated their support for Khawaja while acknowledging the necessity to respect ICC regulations. “Involvement with the team and the ICC entails adherence to specific rules. We fully back Usman (Khawaja), and he’s directly affected by the ongoing Middle East conflict, expressing his voice. It’s about navigating how we do that within the established rules,” Baird stated during an interview on ABC Grandstand.

Khawaja’s choice to wear a black armband serves as a subtle yet powerful statement amidst the strict regulations imposed by the ICC, highlighting his commitment to advocate for causes close to his heart while operating within the framework of cricket’s governing body.