Khawaja is no 'Asian experiment'
Australian batsman Usman Khawaja was picked to hit runs, not for any "Asian experiment", says sports writer Andrew Wu.PT1M42S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ryfe 620 349 August 15, 2013
Usman Khawaja has been dragged into the centre of a controversy over race after comments by a leading English cricket writer sparked a furore online.
English cricket writer Scyld Berry was condemned by some readers after referring to Khawaja's Asian heritage in a report filed after Australia's defeat in the fourth Test.
Racism row: Australia's Usman Khawaja walks off after being given out during play on the first day of the third Ashes cricket test match between England and Australia. Photo: AFP
Khawaja is fighting for his place in the Australian team after a lean series with the bat.
"Usman Khawaja will be roasted for the limp defensive prod that he aimed at Graeme Swann when Australia were 147 for one. He could well be replaced in the Oval Test by Phil Hughes and Australia's experiment with their Asian immigrant population will be shelved,” Berry wrote in London's Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Berry's comment was branded as “totally disgusting”, “idiotic” and “disgraceful” by some readers. The line referring to the Asian immigrant population was removed from the Telegraph's website.
Berry has since defended his stance and said he did not mean to “disparage” Khawaja. The piece also told readers his wife of nearly 30 years is an Asian immigrant from India.
“If I may explain, however, it is an observation I made without any intent to disparage Khawaja, but as an attempt to portray the unique position in which he finds himself as the first Muslim to represent Australia – and, broadly speaking, the first non-white since Sam Morris in the 19th century,” he wrote.
Former Test paceman Jason Gillespie, who played 71 Tests from 1996-2006, has indigenous heritage on his father's side, while all-rounder Andrew Symonds has a West Indian background.
Berry likened Khawaja's status as a “marginal figure” in the Australian team to the similar standings of England's Monty Panesar, Samit Patel and Ravi Bopara, who all have Asian heritage.
“From what I have seen, they have been marginal players in the Test and limited-overs teams. Furthermore, I found it strange and regrettable that Panesar and Patel came to be seen as figures of fun, while Bopara was involved in controversy during the Champions Trophy after simply fulfilling his role within the England team,” Berry wrote.
“In the same way, Khawaja has appeared to me to be a marginal figure in the Australian team, from what I saw on his Test debut against England in Sydney, and the tour match against Somerset, and in this Test series to date.”