Khawaja wears black armband in solidarity for Palestine

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Usman Khawaja has found a way to show solidarity for Palestinians caught up in the conflict in Gaza, wearing a black armband when he went out to open the batting on day one of the Perth Test against Pakistan.

Cricket Australia confirmed Khawaja was wearing the armband out of solidarity and respect, in line with the statement he released on an Instagram video on Wednesday.

After Pat Cummins won the toss, Khawaja made 41 in a partnership of 126 with David Warner before he fell caught behind off the bowling of Shaheen Afridi shortly after the lunch break. Khawaja received a warm reception from the Perth crowd as he left the field.

Usman Khawaja wears a black armband.Credit: Getty Images

While Khawaja was forbidden to wear shoes emblazoned with statements of support, as he needs to follow an International Cricket Council process to do so, black armbands are customarily allowed for players to express personal bereavement.

Under that custom, the umpires and match referee do not need to be informed of the player’s intention to wear the black armband.

Khawaja did wear the shoes emblazoned with the slogans on Thursday, but covered up the writing with tape.

In recent times, Mitchell Marsh wore a black armband to mark the death of his grandfather during the World Cup, and the Australian team wore them in India during the Test series earlier this year in tribute to Pat Cummins’ mother, Maria.

Usman Khawaja’s slogan-emblazoned shoes.Credit: Getty; Supplied

Black armbands have also been worn for humanitarian and social issues. At the 2003 World Cup, Zimbabwe’s Andy Flower and Henry Olonga wore black armbands to “mourn the death of democracy in Zimbabwe”.

At the time, the ICC deemed that Flower and Olonga had made a political protest, but declined to charge or penalise them for an offence under the ICC code. Before play, Khawaja spoke about his stance.

“I am a grown man I can do anything I want, but I think the ICC will keep coming down and giving me fines and at some point it will detract from the game,” Khawaja told Seven. “I stand by what I said, I will stand by that, I think forever.

“For me, I need to get out there and concentrate on what I am doing but it is right at the forefront of my mind. I will try to [challenge the ICC] as soon as possible, whenever it is possible. There already has been a precedent set in the past that ICC have allowed.

“A precedent set where players have done stuff in the past where the ICC hasn’t done anything. I find it a bit unfair that they have come down on me at this point in time where there definitely has been precedents in the past of similar things.”

Khawaja was defended on Thursday by the federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers, a friend of the cricketer.

“I don’t think it’s an especially controversial statement,” Chalmers said. “The lives on one side of a conflict are not worth any more or any less than the lives on the other side of the conflict.

“He is an absolute champion and he’s got a big heart and I think that they should let him wear the shoes.

“It’s not a controversial statement, it’s not an especially political statement, and I think it would be a good outcome if the relevant authorities let him wear the shoes when he walks out to bat for Australia.”

Despite wearing the armband, Khawaja is still planning on fighting to wear his shoes on Boxing Day at the MCG, the biggest day of the Australian cricket calendar.

The ICC has been contacted for comment.


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