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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Khawaja wants to be known as first Pak-born to play for Aus

Khawaja wants to be known as first Pak-born to play for Aus

Last updated on: January 4, 2011 12:43 IST

'My religious beliefs are quite personal to me'

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Usman Khawaja is not comfortable at being called the first Muslim to play Test cricket for Australia but has no issues if he is known as the first Pakistani-born player to wear the baggy green cap.

-Ashes 2010 coverage

"You can make something out of anything. You can say that Michael Beer is the first person who sticks his tongue out 24/7 to play for Australia," Khawaja said when asked about the historical significance in becoming the first Muslim to play Test cricket for Australia.

"My religious beliefs are quite personal to me. Probably being the first Pakistani-born player is more important," said Khawaja.


Image: Usman Khawaja and Shane Watson
Photographs: Reuters
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'It was an emotional moment for me'

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Khawaja is a standard bearer but he wants to fulfill the role in an understated fashion. The Pakistan-born left-hander showed no nerves as he impressed on his way to 37 at the SCG in the final Ashes Test.

Khawaja, who was brought into the team in place of the injured Ricky Ponting, was presented the baggy green cap by former captain Mark Taylor, and the 24-year-old said it was a special moment of his life.

"'Tubby' (Mark Taylor) was there giving me my baggy green, which I couldn't stop looking at. I was ecstatic at that point. I was probably most emotional. It just felt like the best thing that has ever happened to me.

"As soon as I was out there (at the ground) it just felt like the best thing ever. And the crowd was right behind me, so it was awesome," Khawaja was quoted as syaing by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Four years ago, when England came to Sydney entirely demoralised, Khawaja was running drinks errands in Australia's dressing room.

"It was pretty surreal. Four years ago was the retirement of Langer, Warne and McGrath and Australia won the Ashes five-zip. I did 13th man all five days. It was a lot of fun being a small part of it.

"If there was any pressure on me Pup (Michael Clarke) has been taking it right off. He sent me a text before the game and told me it would be the greatest day of my life, whether I got a golden duck or 400. He has helped me feel comfortable and that is all I can ask for from a skipper on my debut," he said.


Image: Usman Khawaja and Michael Beer

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