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Australia skipper Cummins backs Khawaja on Gaza views

‘He’s standing up for what he believes and I think he's done it really respectfully,’ says Cummins
Australia’s captain Pat Cummins (R) celebrates with team mate Usman Khawaja (L) after dismissing South Africa’s Heinrich Klaasen during the third cricket Test match between Australia and South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney on Saturday (Jan 8). AFP
Australia’s captain Pat Cummins (R) celebrates with team mate Usman Khawaja (L) after dismissing South Africa’s Heinrich Klaasen during the third cricket Test match between Australia and South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney on Saturday (Jan 8). AFP

Australia captain Pat Cummins threw his support behind star opener Usman Khawaja Monday, saying his bid to bring attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was “not offensive”.

Khawaja has been denied permission by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to have a sticker showing a black dove holding an olive branch on his bat and shoes during the second Test against Pakistan.

The logo, which he displayed during training on Sunday, also had the words 01:UDHR – a reference to Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – written on it.

The 36-year-old, a Muslim, was stopped from wearing shoes emblazoned with the hand-written slogans “Freedom is a human right” and “All lives are equal” during the first Test in Perth.

The ICC said they flouted its rules on messages that relate to politics, religion or race.

“We really support Uzzy. He’s standing up for what he believes and I think he’s done it really respectfully,” Cummins told reporters on the eve of the Test in Melbourne.

“As I said last week, ‘All lives are equal’, I don’t think that’s very offensive and I’d say the same about the dove.

“That’s Uzzy. I think he can really hold his head high with the way he’s gone about it.

“But obviously there’s rules in place and 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.”

Khawaja wore a black armband during the Perth Test and was reprimanded by the ICC, but insisted it was for a “personal bereavement” and not politically-motivated.

Last week, he spoke about how the Israel-Hamas conflict had affected him.

“When I’m looking at my Instagram and seeing innocent kids, videos of them dying, passing away, that’s what hit me the hardest,” he said.

“I don’t have any agendas other than trying to shine a light on what I feel really passionately, really strongly about.”

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