Pakistan-born Australian opener Usman Khazar was planning to walk into the first Test of the series against Pakistan in Perth wearing shoes emblazoned with the words ‘all lives are equal’ and ‘freedom is the right of every human being’. He had such a plan to support Palestine.
But because it seemed like a political statement, the ICC reminded Khawaja of their rules and told Khawaja before the Test that he cannot enter the field wearing such shoes. Khawaja decided to get off without necessarily wearing the shoes with those two phrases written on them, although X-A (formerly Twitter) said in a video message that he will continue this fight for Palestine.
Khawaja finally wore a black arm brace in the Perth Test. He did not take permission from ICC for that. Because of that, the ICC has now charged Khawaja for breaking the ICC’s ‘Jersey, Clothing and Equipment’ rules. His punishment has not yet been announced, but Cricinfo reports that the minimum punishment for these offenses is a reprimand.
Many a team or a player of a team can be seen entering the field wearing black armbands on the cricket field. Usually, in the case of the death of a former player, someone from his family or a special person of the country, the whole team or a player of the team can be seen wearing such black armbands. But in those cases the country’s board and ICC have to be informed in advance.
Khawaja did none of that. He wears black armbands to protest the indiscriminate killing of children and innocent people in Gaza, Palestine. But this is a geo-political issue, there is a ban on wearing such things without prior permission in the playground.
ICC has reminded of that directive against Khawaja. An ICC spokesperson told Cricinfo, “Usman Khawaja has been charged with breaching Clause ‘F’ of the jersey and equipment guidelines. In the first Test against Pakistan, Usman gave a personal message (by wearing a black armband) without seeking permission from Cricket Australia and the ICC. But in case of private messages prior permission is given. It falls under the ‘breach of other conditions’ of the Code, and in these cases reprimand is the punishment for the first offence.’
The ICC has not announced what Khawaja’s punishment will be until Thursday night. However, Cricinfo reports that whatever the punishment, there is no risk of Khawaja being ruled out of the second Test of the series due to any related ban. In these cases, a fourth violation of the law within 12 months is punishable by a 75 percent fine, not a ban. Australia’s second Test of the series against Pakistan in Melbourne will begin on December 26, Boxing Day.
Cricinfo reports that Khawaja is likely to speak in Melbourne tomorrow, Friday. Now let’s see what Khawaja says.