PakPassion Presents an Exclusive Interview with Usman Khawaja

Genghis

Test Debutant
Joined
Nov 20, 2005
Runs
13,325
We are delighted to present an exclusive interview with Islamabad born Australian left hand batsman Usman Khawaja. Usman was recently named in Australia's test squad for the tour to UK.

Here, he speaks with PakPassion.net on a wide range of questions from his experiences playing in the Australian domestic competition to his Pakistani roots.

PakPassion.Net: What does it feel like being the first Muslim getting a chance to play for world champion Australian team? Do you feel any added pressure?

Usman Khawaja: No added pressure at all. Religion is a very personal thing to me and I only get judged by how I perform on the field, and that is all I can try to control.


PakPassion.Net: Which club did you start playing cricket with? Did you play with other international and state players and who was your coach?

Usman Khawaja: My first team was Randwick and now I play club cricket for them in Sydney. I grew up playing with David Warner and Moises Henriques. We are from the Eastern Suburbs. Both those guys have represented Australia.

PakPassion.Net: When you first started playing cricket in Australia, what were you told to focus on by your coaches?

Usman Khawaja: To play straight, watch the ball as hard as I could and make sure I had good footwork while batting.

PakPassion.Net: Growing up, which cricketers have you admired most? And why?

Usman Khawaja: Brian Lara and Adam Gilchrist were my favourite players. Lara for his ability to read game situations so well, and changing them in the space of five overs. I loved how he showed no fear. Similar with Gilchrist although having met him a few times I came to like the kind of person he was as well.

PakPassion.Net: Who is your all-time favorite Pakistani cricketer?

Usman Khawaja: Probably Saeed Anwar, he was a beautiful cricketer to watch, in full flow. Wasim Akram too.

PakPassion.Net: What are your thoughts on the Pakistan team, specifically the bowling attack?

Usman Khawaja: They always have a lot of talent to pick from no doubt, and their bowling attack is very respectable, which has always been the case for Pakistan, in particular their pace bowlers. Amir is a good young talent.

PakPassion.Net: Immigrating from Pakistan, have you and your family always supported Australia? If not, when what was the time you started supporting Australia?’

Usman Khawaja: Ever since I can remember, I have supported Australia. Obviously my mom and dad supported Pakistan when they first arrived in Australia but they transitioned over soon enough as well. I will never forget where I come from, and no one should, but Australia has been my home every since I can remember.

PakPassion.Net: Who are your closest friends in the Australian cricket team?

Usman Khawaja: Steven Smith and Simon Katich. I have known both for a long period of time and they are both excellent cricketers and great mates. Young Smithy has blossomed into a fine cricketer.

PakPassion.Net: How supportive have your teammates been?

Usman Khawaja: As supportive as you’d expect – we are all fighting for position, but on the other hand there is a close bond with my NSW and Australia A teammates as we all try for a slot in the prestigious Australia team.

That is one thing about the cricket culture in Australia - everyone is really happy for other peoples achievements.

PakPassion.Net: Which is the most memorable innings you have played in you short career?

Usman Khawaja: My first First Class hundred was special. I was coming into that game knowing I was struggling for the Blues so to come out with a hundred and my first one was very special to me.

PakPassion.Net: Who is the most difficult bowler you have faced?

Usman Khawaja: Nathan Hauritz is a handful to face. He always seems to be one step ahead of me and it does my head in! Luckily we both play for the same state and club team.

PakPassion.Net: The Australian U19 team just recently won the U19 World Cup. Any players from that group that we should be looking out for?

Usman Khawaja: Josh Hazelwood is an obvious candidate. He is an extremely talented bowler and a giant of a boy who is still growing.

Mitchell Marsh is a very talented allrounder and Nic Maddinson is a very mature young left-handed batsman. Jason Floros from QLD also has a lot of potential.

PakPassion.Net: You have had limited opportunities playing T20 cricket and many have labeled you a test only batsmen. What are your thoughts on your playing style?

Usman Khawaja: Media labels are meaningless to me. Scoring runs in the right way and is all that counts. I play for NSW and they have a very strong group of players to contend with. But I believe good batsman will score in any conditions. You see the likes of Mahela Jayawardene and Paul Collingwood who are really good test match batsman and always find a way to do well in the T20 scene as well.

PakPassion.Net: Any ambitions to play in the many T20 leagues being played around the world?

Usman Khawaja: Not at the moment. My goal is to play well for my State side back home and hopefully play for Australia. If I can do that the rest will take care of itself.

PakPassion.Net: Do you think that you're batting technique has a unique style or is it built off players you have watched and learned from?

Usman Khawaja: No, I think it is quite original. I have never copied any other player, and never plan too. Everyone has to find a way to score on the field and that’s all I have tried to do. As much as I admire many players and the way they have batted, I think playing style is a very personal choice.

PakPassion.Net: We keep hearing about how strong Australian domestic cricket is, why is it so strong in your opinion?

Usman Khawaja: I don’t know how strong it is relative to other domestic competitions, but I might assume it’s high because the players are rising to the challenge of a place in the Australian side. In broader terms, I would assume that the coaching and administration standards are very high, if not the best in the world.

PakPassion.Net: Which language do you speak at home?

Usman Khawaja: English. Unless my mom is shouting at me.

PakPassion.Net: What is your favourite Pakistani food?

Usman Khawaja: Pretty much anything my mother cooks.

PakPassion.Net: I am sure your family must be extremely proud of your achievements. Will any of them be with you on tour?

Usman Khawaja: Mum and Dad are already here. I couldn’t stop them!
 

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Once again many thanks to Usman for answering our questions in what was his very first question and answer interview. Also a special thanks to sabz86 for getting us in contact with Usman.
 
Nice interview, seems like a good bloke.

Looking forward to seeing him out there for us soon.
 
good stuff, hope he gets a chance against us!
 
nice interview

he likes all left handed cricketers.......lara,gilli,wasim,saeed anwer,aamer,
 
genghis81 said:
Nathan Hauritz is a handful to face. He always seems to be one step ahead of me and it does my head in!

:))) Am I the only one here who thinks Khawaja struggles against Hauritz because he's of Pakistani descent and our team has always struggled against Hauritz.. who's a very average spinner?! :))

Anyway, good interview. Thanks!
 
could also be 'cos he's left-handed and Hauritz is an offspinner that turns the ball away from the bat...
 
''English. Unless my mom is shouting at me.''

:))) Good sense of humour and seems a very nice lad.Wish him all the best !
 
I wish him no luck for the Pakistan tour but plenty for the rest of his career!
 
Ahmed Zulfiqar said:
could also be 'cos he's left-handed and Hauritz is an offspinner that turns the ball away from the bat...

Yeah, or that. :yk
 
Nice guy ... but I hope Aamer bounces him and knocks a few teeth out. :aamir
 
Nice chap, wish him all the best, and hope he succeeds against all teams..except pak lol......
 
PakPassion.Net: Immigrating from Pakistan, have you and your family always supported Australia? If not, when what was the time you started supporting Australia?’

Usman Khawaja: Ever since I can remember, I have supported Australia. Obviously my mom and dad supported Pakistan when they first arrived in Australia but they transitioned over soon enough as well. I will never forget where I come from, and no one should, but Australia has been my home every since I can remember.


Lol.. Haiiii I was born in england.. N i support Pakistan with all passion. And I couldnt get my family to transition over to supporting england haha

Buh on a serious note, Best of luck in your career. Except against Pakistan. :)
 
Best of luck to usman, and to future success.

Breaking barriers like Hashim Amla did.

Now who will be the first caucasian guy to play for Pakistan???? :)) ;-)
 
Civil said:
Best of luck to usman, and to future success.

Breaking barriers like Hashim Amla did.

Now who will be the first caucasian guy to play for Pakistan???? :)) ;-)

that will probably never happen...too much politics.
 
talha.raja said:
that will probably never happen...too much politics.
Nothing to do with politics. There are hardly any European origin Caucasians in Pakistan - why would they live in Pak?

And I doubt that many more would be immigrating to Pak in the next few decades either! :)

Hence, there's no "talent pool" to pick from.
 
For those that may have not read this previously.
 
Best of luck to usman, and to future success.

Breaking barriers like Hashim Amla did.

Now who will be the first caucasian guy to play for Pakistan???? :)) ;-)

Hasn't at least one done so already back in the 50s? Although I think they may have been Anglo-Indians

Edit: he was Anglo-Pakistani, Duncan Albert Sharpe

Here's an article from Chisty Mujahid on minorities who have played for Pak.

http://www.indianexpress.com/oldStory/34956/

Btw, good luck to Khawaja on his international career.
 
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seen him bat a few times now (although not in the 2nd innings of this test yet).

My observations are that he stands too far across and then also shuffles across, which leaves him on off stump nearly. Their are multiple consequences of this.

1. He ends up playing at balls outside the off stump that he could easily leave.
2. As he is so far across, he becomes a massive lbw candidate, esp in australia, SA, Eng, where the DRS is used in nearly every series.
3. It also exposes his leg stump so there is more chance of being bowled round his legs.

I think in 1st class cricket you can get away with a lot more, as the quality of umpires is not the same, neither is their much television coverage (no DRS).

Surprised the coaches have not pointed out these shortcomings, cause if he continues doing so, and fails, then i think the blame is on khawaja as well as the coaches who have failed to correct these mistakes.
 
Played real well today, must have been angry to get out right before stumps.
 
I would invite him to play competitive domestic cricket in Pakistan

I know, in the past he said, "No".
But things have changed.

May be it's due to extremely tough competition in Australia, may be there is hint of racial bias, may be it's his own short comings and frustration but, his future looks pretty much done and dusted in Australia.

I would approach him again just to check and see?

I am telling you, this is what I call potential hint of talent and class.

 
Does Pakistan allow dual citizenship, or will he need to take just the one nationality?

But it's an interesting idea- haven't heard much from him recently and he may have dropped off in the pecking order for Australia.
 
One of those guys who can't replicate his form on the international stage
 
This highlight proves nothing. I am not judging his batting. But most of the Pakistani batsmen probably played this kind of innings in domestic.
 
i will take him with both hands, he will be best batsman after Muhammed Yosuf... PCB should ask him and see if he is interested in representing for Pakistan
 
Does Pakistan allow dual citizenship, or will he need to take just the one nationality?

But it's an interesting idea- haven't heard much from him recently and he may have dropped off in the pecking order for Australia.

Dual citizenship is allowed unless he runs for a political office.
 
Wonderful innings - superstar in the making!

Thank you Pakistan :)
 
Very good innings this test. Hopefully he builds on it.
 
One of those guys who can't replicate his form on the international stage

Proved me wrong, great innings and hope he gets many more against everyone but us :)
 
http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cric...ase-of-mistaken-identity-20161213-gt9yc2.html

Australia v Pakistan Test cricket: Usman Khawaja's case of mistaken identity


Usman Khawaja left Pakistan with his family before the age of five but nearly a quarter of a century later and almost six years since he made his Test debut for Australia not quite everyone knows who he is playing for at the Gabba this week.

"I was waiting downstairs and I needed the change room locker to be opened for us," the Australian No.3 batsman said on Tuesday after arriving at the ground. "And I was just waiting and the Queensland Cricket lady came down. She was like 'Oh, you need the locker rooms open?' I went 'yes please' and she started walking to the Pakistani change room. "

"I was like, 'No, I'm that way, thank you'."

The anecdote drew laughter when he shared it and it was told in good humour by Khawaja, the Queensland captain who now calls Brisbane home.

The series against Pakistan pits the 29-year-old up against his country of birth for the first time in Test cricket and his heritage remains important to him and even more so to parents Tariq and Fozia, who emigrated from Islamabad and settled in Sydney in the early 1990s.

"It still is a very big part of me," Khawaja said. "Culture is very important, as is religion ... not as important as religion obviously. My parents are Australian but they're also very Pakistani. If I broke it down, the way I act and what I do, is very Australian. But when I talk to my parents I still at times try to speak Urdu here and there. It's not as good as them but they can understand what's going on. It is a big part of my life when I'm with my parents or around my parents but other than that it's usually quite normal."

"I came around [the age of] four and a half. I've had glimpses of memories from before I left. I was born in Islamabad. So I have glimpses of memories of our old place and whatnot, but nothing too circumstantial. First four years of my life, so most of my childhood memories revolve around being in Australia being in Sydney."

There is also no dispute whatsoever about who his family will be supporting when the first Test starts on Thursday.

"My parents are truly Australian now. They don't support Pakistan at all," he said. "They haven't for a long time now. They were there for 30 years but now they just want me to do well and want Australia to win every single time no matter who we're playing. There is no allegiance conflict at all."

Khawaja enters this series in rich form, much like he was in last summer when he posted century after century. There have been three in his past three matches – a man-of-the-match winning 145 for Australia against South Africa in the third Test in Adelaide book-ended by two hundreds for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield. He is not taking it for granted, however, that the runs will keep coming.

"Obviously runs are flowing at the moment. I'm feeling really good," he said. "I'm not a big one on believing in form. In or out because in this game, everything changes every single game. The wickets change, your opposition changes, the ground changes, the balls seem like they react differently whether it's a red ball, a pink ball or a white ball, they all seem to react differently on different days on different wickets. "

"I know how quickly things can change. So every time I go out there I'm just trying to score as many runs as I can and do whatever I can to help the guys win a cricket game. It's always nice to come into another game with runs behind your belt because you do feel a little bit more relaxed but that's when you have to bring yourself back in, just reel it in, and make sure you tell yourself that there's still lots of runs to be had out there and don't get complacent because there's always times where you don't score as many runs as you like and it's always tough, so you probably have to be more hardened at these times than at any other time I reckon."
 
Usman Khawaja says racial abuse deterred him from supporting Australia

Usman Khawaja, Australian cricketer, has revealed his struggles with racial sledging during his childhood days, after his family migrated Down Under.

Khawaja became the first-ever Pakistani-origin Test cricketer for Australia when he walked out to bat in the all-important Ashes series in 2010-11 at Sydney, hogging the limelight as he was seen Ricky Ponting’s potential replacement.

Usman Khawaja, who was born in Pakistan, had moved to Australia with his family when he was five-years-old. Right from his early days, he faced racial sledging — being called a “F---ing curry muncher” — while he was trying to find his feet in cricket.

“Getting sledged by opposition players and their parents was the norm. Some of them said it just quietly enough for only me to hear. It still hurt, but I would never show it. Most of the time it was when I scored runs. Some parents take things too seriously. It is for this reason why so many of my friends, most of whom were born outside Australia, didn’t support Australia in sporting contests. I didn’t either,” Khawaja was quoted as saying to playersvoice.com.

Khawaja revealed West Indies legend Brian Lara was his favourite batsman growing up.

“Especially in cricket. It was either West Indies, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka. Anyone else. It’s probably why Brian Lara was my favourite cricketer,” he said.

Khawaja, who is all set to play the first Ashes Test in Brisbane starting November 23, said even other parents who were from the Indian subcontinent would not support him.

“So many times, I was told by other subcontinental parents, ‘You will never make it, you’re not the right skin colour’. No joke. That might have been true in some respects in past eras and generations, but it just drove me more to prove them all wrong,” he said.

However, Khawaja said the situation has changed now. “Now subcontinental parents can see a future for their kids, at a younger age. It isn’t about making a choice — study or cricket — like my Mum wanted me to do. And I can see it, in the domestic cricketers of all ages that are coming through now, compared to when I started playing and was the only Asian player at first class level in the whole country.”

He added: “Now we have Gurinder Sandhu, who is a close friend of mine from Sydney Thunder and represented Australia. Another youngster from the Thunder is Arjun Nair, an excellent young, up-and-coming player. Being racially vilified actually made me stronger in many respects.”

Khawaja expressed confidence that Australian cricket is changing in this aspect and have begin to accept players from other parts of the world.

“So why is there an emergence of multi race players now in Australia? Maybe it was inevitable with the growing multicultural community in Australia. Maybe it was a few friendly faces at the highest level. We will never know,” he said.

“What I do know is Australian cricket is slowly changing and will finally have a chance to reflect what Australia really is. An international team truly representative of its richly diverse population,” Khawaja concluded.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/crick...al-sledging/story-XnZ8J9PIi3DlBmvnjAMMqI.html
 
Must have been tough, being the only visibly different player in the whole FC scene. Despite that, he's now established himself as a pretty good player for Australia, albeit somewhat of a test specialist.

Hope he takes his game to the next level and starts featuring in the LO teams as well. He's certainly got the game for it.
 
Two fifties in four innings this Ashes so far.

On the one hand that's a decent enough start.

On the other hand, he hasn't pressed on and scored big. Both times, got out just after reaching the landmark.
 
Usman Khawaja learned to cop criticism a long time ago but a deeply personal column resulted in his character being critiqued rather than his cricket.

Khawaja penned a piece five months ago on PlayersVoice, opening up about how he was racially vilified as a child and sledged about his heritage as a junior cricketer.

The Pakistan-born batsman, who moved to Sydney when he was four, also highlighted how "Australian cricket is slowly changing and will finally have a chance to reflect what Australia really is - an international team truly representative of its richly diverse population".

Right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt dubbed Khawaja a "lousy victim of our alleged racism", while social media lit up with a range of responses.

"I got a lot of good feedback, some negative feedback too. That was expected when you write a column like that," Khawaja told reporters in South Africa.

"I'm fine with that. It doesn't really bother me too much. The good far outweighs the bad.

"I'm used to it now. I've got plenty of negative feedback and criticism from the media before.

"I felt like if I wrote that story and it helped even one person to relate to where I came from or where they are right now; to help them achieve what they want, then it was a good enough reason to do it."


Khawaja was reluctant to speak about his upbringing early in his international career, when Cricket Australia made no secret of its desire to use him as a marketing weapon to try to shake the sport's reputation of being pale, male and stale in Australia.

But times are changing.

"I was just trying to explain a story of mine truthfully. It's probably not something I wouldn't have said or talked about a few years ago," Khawaja said.

"I think it's important. Australia is growing - both in a sense of the cricketing country, who is playing and where cricketers are coming from, and Australia as a whole.

"In Brisbane, at the mosque I go to, there's a lot of refugees and immigrants. I talk to them about cricket and football and all sorts of other things.

"I love playing cricket and that's my first and foremost, trying to win games for Australia. The rest of it ... I'm not out there actively being something that I'm not."

https://wwos.nine.com.au/2018/03/16/03/37/khawaja-not-fazed-by-racism-piece-feedback
 
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