Even as a one-sided Ashes wrapped up yesterday, with Australia retaining the title after a 4-0 series demolition, social media was abuzz with something else: skipper Pat Cummins halting the team’s alcohol-fuelled celebrations so that teammate Usman Khawaja could join them on the podium.
In a now-viral video, Khawaja can be seen hurrying offstage while teammates David Warner and Mitchell Starc shake the champagne bottles to pour over the team. He is quickly beckoned back by Cummins and his other teammates.
Soon after, Khawaja, the first Muslim cricketer to play for Australia, tweeted his appreciation for the gesture.
“If this video doesn’t show you that the boys have my back, I don’t know what will,” he wrote.
“They stopped their normal champagne celebrations so I could rejoin. Inclusivity in the game and our values as a sport are so important. I feel like we are trending in the right direction.”
The scene played out in clear view of the cameras, showcasing a team that respected Khawaja’s religious beliefs, as well as a player who was happy to step aside for his teammates to celebrate as they liked.
Pat Cummins, Australia’s cricket team captain, tells team to stop pouring champaign to allow Usman Khawaja, a Muslim teammate, to celebrate with them after Ashes victory. Beautiful act of leadership. pic.twitter.com/i59pJ8vy1e
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) January 17, 2022
Only now seen the footage of @patcummins30 stopping champagne celebrations so @Uz_Khawaja could be apart for them. What a legend. Australia may have finally found a captain who genuinely cares about people more than the game.
— Chris Reeder (@ChrisReeder_) January 17, 2022
Enough to make a grown man cry…If ever Australia needed this it is now. Cummins’ leadership and Khawaja’s commitment to his faith an example to us all. https://t.co/pQ2F8TjR7U
— Bates_Ian_M (@Bates_Ian_M) January 17, 2022
“We’ve got a really diverse bunch of people and you want to celebrate that and you want to make sure everyone feels comfortable being themselves,” Cummins later told reporters in Hobart after the celebrations.
The Ashes marked Khawaja’s comeback to international cricket after two long years and the 35-year-old won over fans and critics alike with twin centuries in the Fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Notably, he became the first Australian to score twin tons in Sydney since Ricky Ponting in 2006.
Khawaja’s impressive showing even caught the eye of Aussie music legend Paul Kelly, who penned a heart-warming tribute to the cricketer.
It appears a South Asian cricketer has finally won over Australian hearts.