Pat Cummins curious on ICC not allowing Usman Khawaja’s dove logo

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Australia captain Pat Cummins says there is no difference between Usman Khawaja displaying a dove logo on his shoe and bat to raise awareness of humanitarian issues and teammate Marnus Labuschagne displaying an eagle on his bat which signifies a personal religious message, after the ICC denied Khawaja’s application to display the logo during the Boxing Day Test.

Khawaja made an application to the ICC to display a small dove holding an olive branch on his shoe and bat during the Test match which is a reference to article one of the Universal declaration of Human Rights that 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.”

But despite being cleared by Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association to display it, the ICC denied his application with an ICC spokesperson stating that, “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.”

Labuschagne displays the symbol of an eagle on the back of his bats which represents a verse from the bible and has long been allowed to have the sticker on his bat in international cricket. Almost every player in the Australian team, including Khawaja, also have multiple advertising stickers on their bats that represent different companies including their bat/equipment sponsor and a secondary personal sponsor, which are allowed under ICC rules.

Speaking on Christmas Day, 24 hours out from the start of the second Test against Pakistan at the MCG, Cummins said he saw no difference between Labuschagne displaying a religious reference and Khawaja’s attempt to display a logo referring to the Universal declaration of Human Rights.

“Not really, no – I don’t know the ins and outs of the application, but I think it is pretty vanilla, a dove,” Cummins said.

“We really support Uzzy, I think he’s standing up for what he believes and I think he’s doing it really respectfully.

“All lives are equal and I don’t think that’s very offensive, and I’d say the same about the dove. That’s Uzzy. He can hold his head high the way he’s gone about it, but there’s rules in place, so I believe the ICC have said they’re not going to approve that. They make up the rules and you’ve got to accept it.”

The ruling has raised the ire of former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding who has accused the ICC of double standards.

“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 told the Weekend Australian. “Once again they show their hypocrisy and lack of moral standing as an organisation.”

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 last 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.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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