Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja says he will “always stand up for himself” revealing the powerful way he confronts hecklers.
The Brisbane Heat star and test opener shares his thoughts in a candid interview with 10-year-old cricket fan, Mabel Tovey, for The Courier Mail’s online series, Tiny Edition, where children interview celebrities.
“Most times I get heckled, I just ignore it because it’s not important, it’s not relevant,” he says.
“Until I feel like it crosses the line for me, until I feel like it offends me or it gets too personal, I’ll call them out on it.
“At some level, you have to stand up for what you believe in and stand up for yourself and I’ll try do it and do it as respectfully as possible.”
The star reminded us why he’s a beloved Australian personality offering candid responses from the poignant to funny, sharing his most embarrassing moment on field, life as a dad to two girls and what prompted his secret sneaker obsession.
It comes after the athlete and the Australian team were at the centre of a heckling incident in July during the second Ashes Test in the UK.
Khawaja spoke out at the time about the “rough” level of abuse Australians have received from the crowds during the Ashes but wouldn’t divulge what was said to him in the Long Room at Lord’s.
Khawaja stopped and engaged with a member as he and his teammates were heckled by MCC members as they left the field after a fiery first session during the final day during the second Test sparked by the controversial stumping of England batter Jonny Bairstow.
Three of those MCC members were suspended amid an investigation into the ugly scenes, during which security had to intervene when Khawaja and other players took umbrage to what was said.
Ahead of the fourth Test Khawaja, opted against expanding going in to detail what was said declaring the MCC were “all over it”.
But he also revealed teammate Travis Head was called a “c***” by parts of the crowd during the first Test at Edgbaston and expressed his disappointment at the levels of foul language used.
“I mean, they‘re rough. If you talk about it to England guys, they say we are equally as rough when (they go to Australia),” Khawaja said.
“I don’t agree with it either way. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. Personally if I am coming to the cricket and watching the cricket, I wouldn’t want my kids to be around that. If I saw that I would 100 per cent make a complaint or just leave.
“I think some of the stuff can be pretty poor.
“Over at Edgbaston they were calling Travis Head a C, U you know what. I‘m like I can’t believe that you can actually say that in a public domain anywhere.”
Khawaja conceded the poor behaviour isn’t limited to English crowds.
“It can be a little disappointing at times, and I think we can take it too far in Australia,” he said.
“The same thing happens in Australia. I‘m not a big fan of it. I know watching a lot of sport and loving sport that it happens around the world.
“You watch the NBA it happens there. Particularly when crowds can get real close to you, which they can in cricket.
“It is what it is, I don’t necessarily agree with it. I have been doing it my whole life, it doesn’t bother me. And if it does, I will let them know.”