Marnus Labuschagne hits back after Aussie cricket star caught in Usman Khawaja storm

Usman Khawaja was banned from displaying messages of peace during the Test series against Pakistan.

Pictured left to right, Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja.
Marnus Labuschagne has weighed in on the recent drama surrounding Usman Khawaja. Pic: Getty

Aussie cricket star Marnus Labuschagne has weighed in on the recent controversy surrounding Usman Khawaja after his Test teammate was banned from displaying images relating to peace, during the series against Pakistan. Khawaja was blocked by the International Cricket Council (ICC) from displaying a dove symbol on his bat and shoes for the Boxing Day Test, after he was hit with a reprimand for wearing a black armband in the first Test against Pakistan.

The Aussie opener has revealed how hard he's found it watching the events in Gaza unfold, with war raging on between Israel and Palestine. The father-of-two says he can't help but think of his own daughters when seeing the innocent lives that have been lost in the conflict and wanted to do something to help raise awareness about the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

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Despite being given support from Cricket Australia to display symbols of peace on his clothing during the Pakistan series, the ICC ultimately deemed it a contravention of rules barring players from displaying personal messages in relation to politics, race or religion. Khawaja has argued that his actions are no different from other statements fellow players have made in the past, such as Labuschagne, who sports an eagle sticker on his bat relating to a passage from the bible.

Labuschagne is a proud Christian and the eagle refers to the Bible verse Isaiah 40:31, which says that those who hope in the Lord shall "soar on wings like eagles". He and Khawaja are set to feature for the Brisbane Heat in Wednesday night's BBL clash with the Perth Scorchers, where Khawaja is expected to display the dove and olive branch symbol on his bat - to signify his hopes for peace.

Marnus Labuschagne has sported eagle sticker since 2016

While Khawaja has been fully supported in his endeavours by Aussie teammates, Labuschagne believes the opener's recent situation is a "different circumstance" to the religious eagle sticker he showcases on his own bat. "I have had that since 2016 and it was more for myself. It wasn't for anyone else," Labuschagne said.

"It was just a reminder for myself for the reason I am playing the game, so it is probably slightly different scenarios, but that doesn't mean it is not the right decision to let him have (the dove) out there. The team has obviously been very supportive of him and what he is trying to do.

"From what I have read he is going to get the opportunity to wheel out the dove tomorrow night, and I assume that will be very special to him." Aussie captain Pat Cummins previously described the dove symbol as "pretty vanilla" and said it was "not really" any different to Labuschagne's eagle sticker.

Usman Khawaja was blocked by the ICC from displaying a dove symbol on his shoes. Image: Getty
Usman Khawaja was blocked by the ICC from displaying a dove symbol on his shoes. Image: Getty

Khawaja and Labuschagne have rejoined the Heat's BBL squad ahead of next week's first Test against the West Indies, starting on Wednesday at Adelaide Oval. Labuschagne said with one week until that two-match series against the Windies starts, it made sense for him and Khawaja to take part in the Heat's top-of-the-table clash with the Scorchers in the BBL.

"It was a mutual call and it is always nice to come back," Labuschagne said. "The way we have been playing, there is great energy around the group. I have just got here and there are a lot of smiles on faces.

"It is a pretty uncharacteristic long break between (Test) series. We only commence back on Saturday and probably start training Sunday, so there is plenty of time to get back into red-ball mode."

If the Heat can topple five-time champions Perth on Wednesday night they will finish top of the table and host the team that finishes second for direct entry into the BBL final. "To come here and help the team finish first and lock that in... will be massive," Labuschagne added.

with AAP

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