ICC denies Usman Khawaja’s attempt to raise awareness of humanitarian crisis in Gaza

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The ICC has denied Usman Khawaja‘s latest attempt to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by knocking back his application to display the image of a dove and an olive branch on his bat and shoes.

Khawaja displayed the logo on his right shoe and the back of his bat during Australia’s main training session on Sunday at the MCG ahead of the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan starting on Tuesday.

The logo is a reference to article one of the Universal declaration of Human Rights which reads, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

Khawaja had checked with Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association before displaying the logo on his gear and was granted approval but his application to the ICC to display the logos during the Test match was denied.

“The ICC, after giving due consideration to Usman Khawaja’s request for a personal message logo on his bat for the remainder of the Test series against Pakistan, did not approve the application,” an ICC spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo. “Personal messages of this nature are not allowed as per Clause F of the Clothing and Equipment Regulations, which can be found on the ICC Playing Conditions page.

“The ICC is supportive of players using their platforms outside of the playing arena to promote human rights, peace and equality and would encourage him to continue to use alternative platforms.”

Khawaja was charged by the ICC with breaching the same Clause F of the Clothing and Equipment Regulations after wearing a black armband during the first Test against Pakistan in Perth. He said he would challenge the charge having told the governing body it was for a “personal bereavement” but added that he won’t continue to wear one in the MCG Test.

Khawaja wore the armband having initially planned to take the field with writing on his shoes which he had worn in training stating “all lives are equal” and “freedom is a human right” to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Speaking at the MCG on Friday, Khawaja said that he did not believe ICC were implementing their own regulations consistently.

“They asked me on day two [in Perth] what it was for and told them it was for a personal bereavement,” he said of the armband. “I never ever stated it was for anything else. The shoes were a different matter, I’m happy to say that. The armband makes no sense to me. I followed all the regulations, past precedents, guys that put stickers on their bats, names on their shoes, done all sorts of things in the past without ICC approval and never been reprimanded.

“I respect the ICC and the rules and regulations they have. I will be asking them and contesting they make it fair and equitable for everyone and they have consistency in how they officiate. That consistency hasn’t been done yet. I was very open and honest with that. I’ll deal with that with the ICC.”

There was no official statement when Khawaja wore the armband on the first day in Perth, but at the time it was understood to be in relation to the video he had posted on social media after being told he could not show the messages on his shoes.

The ICC’s decision to bar Khawaja’s gesture ahead of the first Test in Perth came in for scathing criticism from Michael Holding. The former West Indies fast bowling great, a prominent voice on racism during the Black Lives Matter movement and author of the prizewinning book on racism in sports ‘Why We Kneel, How We Rise‘ told the Weekend Australian he was not surprised by the ICC’s stance.

“If it had been most other organisations that showed some semblance of consistency with their attitude and behaviour on issues I could claim surprise, but not them,” Holding said. “Once again they show their hypocrisy and lack of moral standing as an organisation.”

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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