Australia batsman Usman Khawaja believes racial stereotypes are behind his reputation as being a “lazy” player.
Khawaja, 33, moved to Sydney as a child and became the first Muslim to play for Australia when he made his Test debut in the 2010-11 Ashes.
“I always had that ‘lazy’ undertone when I was growing up and I think part of that was my relaxed nature but part of it was also because I was Pakistani, and subcontinent people were seen as lazy, not doing the hard yards and whatnot,” he told cricket.com.au.
“Running has never been natural to me, so when we used to do lots of fitness testing I wasn’t as good as everyone else. When you put that against where I was from, that did play against me.
“I like to think we’re starting to move on from that, but there’s definitely still that undertone …”
Cricket Australia has asked Khawaja to join working group looking at increasing diversity in the game.
“When it comes to diversity … I think we’ve been OK at it but we’re still just not quite there,” he said.
“If you look at the landscape in terms of multicultural cricketers around, we’ve got a few subcontinental cricketers [but] we’ve still got a long way to go.
“The racism has been both overt and casual but I had the confidence to speak up when something didn’t feel right, and I know not everyone does.
“Kids need to be given support. We need to let them know, ‘Hey, you’re not the only person going through this, we’ve been through this, we’ve seen this, we’ve dealt with it and we’ve pushed on. You can do the same thing’.
Usman Khawaja, Australian Men’s Cricket Team, Cricket, Ethnic stereotype
Actu monde – AU – ‘We’re not quite there’: Khawaja says racial stereotypes plagued his reputation