DateLine: 9th July 2010
In a country which has unfairly gained some bad press recently on racial intolerance in the international media, the rise of Usman Khawaja is a welcome relief. The Islamabad born left handed batsmen spoke exclusively to PakPassion.net on his inclusion in the Australian test squad and possibly playing against his country of birth.
Usman Khawaja got his break due to a shoulder injury to NSW team mate Phillip Hughes, and after an impressive domestic season which included 698 runs at an average of 63. Now nearly 20 years after his family migrated to Australia, he is an outside chance of achieving his dream to become the first Muslim to wear the baggy green. When asked if he felt any added pressure as a result, Usman confidently replied "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."
Usman, who is also a qualified pilot, spoke about the support he has received from his team mates throughout his career. "We are all fighting for position, but on the other hand there is a close bond with my NSW and Australia A teammates." Fortunately for him, two of his close friends will also be part of the touring squad which will ease the nerves - Steven Smith and Simon Katich. "I have known both for a long period of time and they are both excellent cricketers and great mates," Usman said.
Looking ahead to the two match test series, Usie as he is known was still wary of the unpredictable Pakistani side his team will face. "They always have a lot of talent to pick from no doubt," Usman added. "Their bowling attack is very respectable, which has always been the case for Pakistan, in particular their pace bowlers." Usman had special praise for young Pakistani left arm pacer Mohammad Amir who picked up a superb five-wicket haul during Pakistanís last test series against Australia. "Amir is a good young talent," Usman stated.
When talking about his country of birth, Usman is proud of his heritage and the sacrifice his parents made immigrating to Australia. "I will never forget where I come from, and no one should, but Australia has been my home every since I can remember." For many overseas born Australians, their loyalty is somewhat divided when Australia meets their country of birth in the sporting arena, but for Usman the choice was simple. "Ever since I can remember, I have supported Australia." As for his parents, it was not always the case as Usman explained "Obviously my mom and dad supported Pakistan when they first arrived in Australia but they transitioned over soon enough as well." The meteoric rise of their talented son would have helped in that conversion.
And how excited are the proud parents of Usman Khawaja? - "Mum and Dad are already here [with me on tour]. I couldnít stop them!"
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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