Bewildered by the ICC’s decision to reprimand him for wearing a black armband during the first Test against Pakistan, Australia’s Usman Khawaja on Friday said he will contest the charge as he had told the governing body it was for a “personal bereavement”. Khawaja had worn a black armband during Australia’s 360-run win over Pakistan in Perth last week. He had arrived for a training session on December 13 with “all lives are equal” and “freedom is a human right” inscribed on his batting spikes and had reportedly planned to wear them during the inaugural Test.
“The ICC asked me day two (of the Perth Test) what (the black armband) was for, I told them it was for a personal bereavement. I never ever stated it was for anything else,” Khawaja told reporters.
“I respect the ICC and all the regulations they have, I will be asking them and contesting them … From my point of view, that consistency hasn’t been done yet.” “The shoes were for a different matter, I’m happy to say that, but the armband (reprimand) made no sense to me,” he added.
The opener added that the global governing body had not applied the rules consistently.
“I followed all the regulations and past precedents – guys have put stickers on their bats, names on their shoes, done all sorts of things in the past without ICC approval and never been reprimanded.” The ICC’s regulations prevent players from displaying messages of political, religious or racial causes during international matches.
However, players can wear black armbands to mark deaths of former players, family members or other significant individuals after taking prior permission from the governing body.
The ICC reprimand for Khawaja wearing a black armband in Perth carries no financial or playing penalty.
Khawaja also denied he had “any hidden agendas” when he arrived for a training session with “all lives are equal” and “freedom is a human right” inscribed on his batting spikes, apparently in reference to the war in Gaza.
“I don’t have any agendas other than trying to shine a light on what I feel really passionately, really strong about. I’m trying to do it in the most respectful way as possible,” said Khawaja.
“What I wrote on my shoes was, really I thought about it for a while, what I was going to write. I made sure that I didn’t want to segregate different parts of the population, religious beliefs, communities.” “Hence why I kept religion out of this. I want to be really broad over my speaking because I’m talking about humanitarian issues. I’m talking about article one of Unified Declaration of Human Rights. That is literally the crux of it,” added Khawaja.
“The reason I’m doing it is because it hit me hard. I told Nick (Hockley, Cricket Australia chief) literally just this morning that when I’m looking at my Instagram and I’m seeing kids, innocent kinds, videos of them dying, passing away, that’s what hit me the hardest.
“I just imagine my young daughter in my arms and the same thing. I get emotional talking about it right now again. And for me, that’s the reason I’m doing this. I don’t have any hidden agendas.
“If anything, you know, if anything, this brings up more negativity towards me. People come and start attacking me. I don’t get anything out of this. I just feel like it’s my responsibility to speak up on this.”
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