Anthony Albanese speaks out as Usman Khawaja's new move approved by Cricket Australia

The Prime Minister has responded to the storm surrounding the Aussie cricket star.

Usman Khawaja, pictured here alongside Anthony Albanese.
Usman Khawaja and Anthony Albanese. Image: Getty

Anthony Albanese has heaped praise on Usman Khawaja amid the Aussie cricket star's fight to bring attention to human rights issues. Khawaja has used the Aussie summer of cricket to make a statement amid a tumultuous time in the world, however a number of moves have been blocked by the ICC.

He was barred from wearing shoes that had the words 'all live are equal' and 'freedom is a human right', and also copped a sanction for wearing a black armband that wasn't approved by the governing body. The ICC also blocked him from displaying a sticker of a dove on his bat - the universal symbol of peace.

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Cricket Australia has since decided that Khawaja will be able to use the dove symbol if he plays in the BBL this summer, due to the fact it's not an ICC event. On Monday, Prime Minister Albanese made mention of Khawaja as he addressed the Australian and Pakistani teams at Kirribilli House during his annual New Year's Day reception before the SCG Test.

"I'd like to congratulate (Khawaja) for the courage he has shown standing up for human values," Albanese said. "He has shown courage, and the fact that the team has backed him in is a great thing."

The PM previously said: "I think that Usman Khawaja is a great Australian cricketer and the position that he put forward is one that I think is pretty uncontroversial, one that all lives are equal is a sentiment that I think is uncontroversial. And I think that he's someone who plays a really important role for Australian cricket. Usman Khawaja made his position clear, which is he didn't see it as a political statement."

The third Test against Pakistan at the SCG (starting Wednesday) will mark Khawaja's last game with opening partner David Warner, who is retiring from Test and ODI cricket. "When Ussie and Dave go out, it will be a very special moment, when you walk on to the SCG," Albanese said.

Usman Khawaja, pictured here with his daughters' names on his shoes.
Usman Khawaja wrote his daughters' names on his shoes instead. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

David Warner's emotional tribute to Usman Khawaja

Warner became emotional when speaking about Khawaja in his pre-match press conference on Monday. "Just to see him come back the way he has the last two years has been absolutely amazing," Warner said.

"I know his family are really, really proud of him. I'm really, really proud of him as a mate. When you're childhood friends dreaming big and you get to go out here at the SCG, it's fitting."

Usman Khawaja and David Warner.
Usman Khawaja and David Warner during the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Speaking to Fox Cricket on Monday night, Khawaja further elaborated on his push to fight for human rights. “I don’t do these things on a whim – this is something that has affected me for a long time,’’ he said.

“I was playing Sheffield Shield cricket before the Test series and I was really lacking motivation. I talked to my wife Rachel, I talked to our sports psychologist Brent Membrey and Cricket Australia and told them I really am struggling for motivation right now.

“When I see all these people, particularly innocent kids, dying and I see videos of that happening it really has an effect on me. Going out and playing cricket just seemed so insignificant and I’m really struggling with it.

“It had a big impact on me. I thought long and hard about what I could do and how I could do it without segregating and pushing people aside.’’

with AAP

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