Pat Cummins issues support for Usman Khawaja’s banned dove symbol

Pat Cummins and Usman Khawaja watch an Australian nets session at the MCG on Monday.

Pat Cummins and Usman Khawaja watch an Australian nets session at the MCG on Monday. Photo: Getty

Australian captain Pat Cummins has again backed teammate Usman Khawaja after the opener’s renewed attempt to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was denied by the ICC.

Khawaja was seen with the image of a dove holding an olive branch – a universal symbol of peace – on his right boot and on the back of his bat while training in the MCG nets on Sunday.

But the star left-hander’s application to the International Cricket Council to be allowed to display the images during the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan was turned down.

Cummins feels the dove symbol is “pretty vanilla” and supports his teammate’s right to have strong beliefs, but accepts the governing body’s ruling.

Khawaja was charged by the ICC for breaching its clothing and equipment regulations after he wore a black armband without permission during the first Test in Perth.

Khawaja wore the armband after he was told wearing shoes with the words “All lives are equal” and “Freedom is a human right” would breach ICC rules. He said on Friday it was to respect a personal bereavement.

ICC decision accepted

“We really support Uzzy. He’s standing up for what he believes and I think he’s done it really respectfully,” Cummins said.

“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 was wearing plain black shoes and was greeted warmly by members of the Pakistan team as players from both sides went through light training sessions indoors at the MCG on Monday.

Cummins’ support for Pakistan-born Khawaja came as Australia rolls out an unchanged line-up for the Boxing Day clash beginning on Tuesday, eyeing an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Victorian hero Scott Boland has shone at the MCG in each of the past two summers but has been unable to force his way back into the team for his home Test this time around.

But Cummins, announcing the team to face Pakistan in Melbourne, confirmed on Monday that Boland would miss out.

Rain forecast

The Australians are hot favourites after a dominant 360-run victory in Perth and wet weather may yet prove the biggest obstacle to continuing their winning ways in Melbourne.

“It looks like there might be a little bit of rain about for the first day or so but Test matches here seem to have moved a little bit quicker than at other places in the last few years,” Cummins said.

“I think there will be plenty of time to finish the game. I don’t think it [the weather] will change anything.

“[The wicket] looks pretty good. [It has a ] fair bit of grass, probably a little bit harder and not as green as last year, knowing that it’s potentially going to be under covers today and a little bit tomorrow.

“We’ll see how it plays but it looks like a really good wicket.”

Pakistan changes

Pakistan is set to make at least two changes, with pace bowler Khurram Shahzad (ribs) out injured and wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed axed after the tourists’ demolition in Perth.

The gloveman has been replaced by Mohammad Rizwan, who made a half-century in the drawn tour match against a Victorian XI last week.

Pakistan will confirm the final make-up of its team at the coin toss and hasn’t given up hope of challenging its world-champion hosts.

“This is a huge opportunity for all of us,” Pakistan captain Shan Masood said.

“Any kind of setback provides you with the biggest opportunity to do well and get things right.

“It’s a testament to this squad that they’re looking to find ways to do well, to bounce back and put in a good performance. That’s all we care about.”

-with AAP

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.