Australia batsman Usman Khawaja had some interesting points to make on South Africa’s transformation targets.
Australia might have a ‘win at all costs’ approach to the way they play their cricket, but one could argue that the Proteas have that too, as their whitewash ODI series victory against Australia last month proved that they can win matches with a transformed team, and even skipper Faf du Plessis called on the public to ‘calm down’ about the transformation targets after the series.
However, it’s something Khawaja, the only so-called player of ‘colour’ in the Australian squad, still sits on the fence for after admitting, in an interview with ESPNCricinfo.com, that he spoke to some of the Proteas players about it.
‘I have never seen it that way,’ Khawaja said about the need to include a certain number of players of colour in a team. ‘There is a little bit more emphasis on trying to get people from different backgrounds involved in cricket and to make it a national sport. I think you can aid that process but you can’t artificially manufacture it.
‘I talked to Hashim about it and he has explained it to me from a South African point of view,’ Khawaja said. ‘I can totally understand both sides of the spectrum. It’s a complicated issue.
‘It’s one of those things where you would love to see South Africans come through to Test cricket and just pick the best team and not have to worry about any of the external factors and hopefully in a few years’ time, that will be the case. But it’s also a very young nation in terms of where it has been and where it is now in terms of Apartheid so you have to take that into consideration,’ he added.
In a culturally diverse place such as Australia, Khawaja revealed more could be done in his own country to promote the game across different demographics.
‘I’d love to see players from all different backgrounds come and represent Australia and I think you will see more and more of that,’ said Khawaja. ‘When I first started playing first-class cricket, I am pretty positive I was the only coloured person in the whole system and now you see it a lot more,’ he said.
‘Australia is still a fairly young nation in terms of multi-culturalism and immigration, particularly towards people from Africa and the subcontinent coming over. It’s still first or second generation,’ he said. ‘I expect that to happen but it will need a little bit of time.
‘I have no doubt there will be some new faces coming into the team in the next 10 or 15 years but they will obviously have to earn their stripes. We already see it through young development players and players coming through first-class cricket.’
Photo: Jewel Samad/Gallo Images