Usman Khawaja has won the inaugural Shane Warne Men’s Test Player of the Year award following an excellent 12 months in Australian whites.
And he delivered a quintessentially Khawaja acceptance speech.
Since returning to the Test side in January final yr, Khawaja has been Australia’s leading run-scorer in the five-day format, accumulating 1020 runs at 78.46 in the course of the voting period.
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He capped off the voting interval with an unbeaten 195 in the course of the rain-affected New Year’s Test in opposition to South Africa on the SCG – his third consecutive Test century at the venue.
Last week, Khawaja was named within the ICC Test Team of the Year alongside Australian teammates Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon and Marnus Labuschagne.
During his acceptance speech, Khawaja thanked Travis Head for making method from the Australian group – as a end result of Covid – halfway via final summer’s Ashes sequence, which finally gave Khawaja one other opportunity at Test stage – a chance he’s grasped forcefully.
“I actually thought that sport at the SCG … I at all times thought it could presumably be my final game. I was playing it as my final recreation,” Khawaja mentioned.
Usman Khawaja of Australia. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images
“It’s funny whenever you play with that sort of mindset how issues can really work out. I was simply nervous about getting off the mark and doing the method proper and trying to win the game for the team. Life’s very humorous at times.”
The Queenslander was unstoppable in Pakistan, his country of birth, registering scores of 97, 160, 44 not out, 92 and 104 not out during the historic tour.
“What we did as a team going to Pakistan … I mean, New Zealand had a chance to go, they didn’t go. England had a chance to go, they didn’t go,” he mentioned.
“All the way in which from CA up to the highest, as much as Pat (Cummins), all the gamers – it was a sacrifice at some level because the families … it was unsure. We hadn’t been again there for therefore lengthy, so for a lot of people they don’t see behind the scenes it’s a troublesome decision to make. Credit to everyone who went.
“Obviously I was born in Pakistan. I know what it means to Pakistan cricket. I know what it means to Pakistan. I know what it means to my dad as a result of I grew up and I saw what the passion he had for cricket and supporting Pakistan and now Australia. For the blokes to do that, I think speaks volumes for the group and where we’re headed.”
Usman Khawaja shares a second with Marnus Labuschagne. Picture: Mark EvansSource: Getty Images
Khawaja was then asked to say a number of thank you’s, which prompted a cheeky self-plug.
“I’ll simply start by saying congrats to everybody on the team. I think there’s been excellent performances – Marnus, Smudger, Patty always, Gaz the amount of wickets you’ve taken this year is unbelievable. I was just a little bit better I think … I’m just joking guys, I needed to get it out there,” he mentioned with amusing.
Khawaja then turned his attention to his household and delivered touching tributes.
“For my wife, Rachel – you’re the rock. You know the way a lot I love you,” he mentioned.
“When I obtained dropped in 2019, you gave me unconditional love. I’m getting emotional serious about a very tough time in my life. You loved me once I was taking part in for Australia, you actually liked me after I was enjoying for Queensland, even when I was a ‘clubbie’ playing for ‘Valleys’ you gave me unconditional love.
“You love Usman Khawaja the particular person, not Usman Khawaja the cricketer – and for that, I’m truly indebted to you. Without you, I wouldn’t be standing right here proper now.
“I’ll just give a quick point out to my daughters, Aisha and Ayla. They won’t understand what’s going on right now, but I’m certain at some stage at a while in life, they’ll be like ‘you should’ve thanked us’. Feisty girls, those ones.
Marnus gives Usman the wind up | 00:45
“Aisha I love you so much. You convey so much happiness to my life, something I might by no means ever defined. You imply the world to me. Ayla, you’re solely eight months outdated, you’re attached to your mum proper now, the most I get is ‘ba ba ba’ from you – but that ‘ba ba ba’ melts my coronary heart and I love you too very a lot.
“To my mum, I’m positive you probably would have seen her in the stands. She’s the lady with the scarf who’s at all times panicking every single match I play. She still thinks it’s my first Test match – Mum I’ve played 50 Test matches, I’m 36 years old, relax! Enjoy the sport please. I love you so much. I’m hoping the subsequent little little bit of the journey you’ll be able to enjoy.
“To my dad, who’s an absolute cricket tragic. You made the biggest sacrifice of all for us children. We lived a very good life in Pakistan, we were comfy. But you moved, you determined to take a leap – without a job, without something – for us youngsters to have a better life. For that I will at all times be indebted and for that I will always thanks for permitting me to be in Australia and representing the Australian cricket staff. Who is aware of should you by no means moved, I may need been on the PCB awards proper now getting an award … probably for best all-rounder as a result of my offies would’ve been devastating out there!”
Usman Khawaja arrives ahead of the 2023 Australian Cricket Awards. Photo by Mark Evans/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images
As Khawaja was thanking his teammates, Marnus Labuschagne screamed out from his seat and appeared to provide Khawaja the wind-up.
“This is my time. When The People’s Champ’s talking, don’t rush The People’s Champ, alright?” Khawaja mentioned.
He then thanked cricket fans – as a end result of “The People’s Champ has to thank the fans”.
“The love I’ve gotten over the past 12 months, I might never ever imagined getting that kind of love,” he stated.
“I finally feel like not only my teammates, but Australia as a country and as a cricketing organisation is lastly respecting me because the individual, the beliefs I even have. I love the place we’ve been and where we’re going. I love the place we’ve come over the past 10 to 15 years and hopefully over the next 10 to 15 years we could be even further.
Khawaja earlier in the evening additionally received the Community Impact Award for his work off the sphere. The Australian opener’s Usman Khawaja Foundation helps younger people from deprived communities by offering instructional and cricketing opportunities.
Shane Warne Test Player of the Year
2000 – Glenn McGrath
2001 – Colin Miller
2002 – Matthew Hayden
2003 – Ricky Ponting
2004 – Ricky Ponting
2005 – Damien Martyn
2006 – Shane Warne
2007 – Ricky Ponting
2008 – Brett lee
2009 – Michael Clarke
2010 – Simon Katich
2011 – Shane Watson
2012 – Michael Clarke
2013 – Michael Clarke
2014 – Michael Clarke
2015 – Steve Smith
2016 – David Warner
2017 – Mitchell Starc
2018 – Steve Smith
2019 – Nathan Lyon
2020 – Marnus Labuschagne
2021 – Pat Cummins
2022 – Travis Head
2023 – Usman Khawaja