Alex Conrad from Fox Sports January 17th, 2022 8:29 am
As the Aussies began to celebrate retaining the Ashes after a 4-0 series demolition of England, Usman Khawaja was pictured scampering off the stage and away from his teammates.
It’s not that he didn’t want to celebrate, quite the opposite.
But Khawaja is a Muslim and his religion prevents him from drinking.
As the champagne corks began to fly and the liquid of success was sprayed around, Aussie skipper Pat Cummins was quick to recognise there was one less baggy green on stage with the team in the form of Khawaja.
Immediately he and Marnus Labuschagne called and gestured for Khawaja to rejoin the team, as Cummins also pushed a bottle of champagne in a teammates’ hand down to the floor of the stage so that Khawaja could join the party sans alcohol being sprayed around.
It was an incredibly classy gesture from Cummins, who has enjoyed a stellar debut Test series since being appointed as captain.
So many leadership qualities at play here, as well as awareness, in a time of euphoria; the appreciation of religious sensibilities and connecting understanding to the immediate situation, shared also by other team members around Cummins – that is about creating team culture.
It seemed to me that one of Cummins’ most significant leadership actions was instantly preventing a player with the champagne bottle from continuing the spraying.
Isn’t it a heartwarming story – and ironically picked up by FoxNews – that gives hope that Australia may be making some progress in normalising inclusion across our diverse society. Mind you, the images of what was happening were completely at odds with the commentary of the TV broadcaster, who missed what was happening completely!