Khawaja’s peace protest cut short by unexpected turn of events as Neser fires Heat to win over Scorchers


Usman Khawaja finally had his chance to showcase the dove and olive branch symbols of peace in a BBL cameo innings for the Brisbane Heat but a broken bat cut his protest short.

The imagery was displayed by the Heat captain on his shoes and on his bat in his knock of 14 from eight deliveries at the Gabba against Perth on Wednesday night.

Khawaja had the peace symbols and a reference to Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on his shoes and his bat for four deliveries – before he broke it.

He had to call for a new bat, but the replacement did not have the symbols displayed.

Lucky Usman Khawaja listened to his wife @rachel_khawaja, otherwise he wouldn’t have had a second bat to use when the first one broke ???? #BBL13

— 7Cricket (@7Cricket) January 10, 2024

It was part of Khawaja’s campaign to draw attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

He was barred from doing so by the International Cricket Council in the recent Test series against Pakistan, but Cricket Australia supported his move, and the opportunity presented itself in the BBL.

The dove and olive branch have been representative of peace, love and harmony for millennia, with the symbolism used in the Old Testament in the Bible, by the ancient Greeks and various cultures and belief systems.

The significance of the “01:UDHR” that Khawaja displayed in small letters is its reference to Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

It states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

Brisbane Heat wrapped up the BBL top spot and a home qualifying final with a 23-run win over Perth Scorchers on the back of a stunning all-round Michael Neser performance.

Neser’s unbeaten 64 from 30 deliveries, his highest score in the BBL, was the match-turning innings at The Gabba on Wednesday that lifted the Heat to 6-191 after they had been 5-91 in the 13th over and in dire trouble.

Allrounder Neser (2-31) then shone with the ball and in the field. He removed the dangerous Zac Crawley (13) early and topped it off with a brilliant running catch at deep mid-on to dismiss Josh Inglis (28 off 20) just when he was looking dangerous. 

The Heat fast bowlers turned the screws to restrict the Scorchers to 9-168 despite the best efforts of  Laurie Evans (51 off 20). Heat speed demon Spencer Johnson (2-23) bowled at 140 kph in a fiery and productive spell.

The Heat moved to 16 points, five clear of defending champions Perth and in an unassailable position.

They will now host the BBL qualifier on the Gold Coast on January 19 against the team that finishes second, with the winners going through to the final. 

Their tactic of delaying the power surge until the 18th over reaped rewards, with the pair plundering 30 in 12 balls.

Of course it’s Neser who takes the catch running back!

Huge moment for @HeatBBL #BBL13

— 7Cricket (@7Cricket) January 10, 2024

Neser walloped 20 off the last over from Jason Behrendorff, including three sixes.

The Heat were unable to break away early, losing wickets at regular intervals.

Marnus Labuschagne (45 off 33 deliveries), returning with Khawaja from the Australian Test line-up to play BBL, was in superb form but fell just when he was set to cut loose.

The Scorchers were disciplined early with the ball.

Spinner Ashton Agar (2-29 off four) showcased his class to restrict the Heat batters, picking up Matt Renshaw (18 off 15).

50 for Neser off just 26 balls, and brought up in style! #BBL13

— 7Cricket (@7Cricket) January 10, 2024

The Heat will be without their Test stars in the finals, along with batters Sam Billings and Colin Munro who will join their International League T20 teams in the United Arab Emirates.

Neser said the Heat were not relying on one player, but everyone was contributing.

“The story of the whole tournament is that we are all gelling on the field and off the field,” he told Fox Sports.

“Everyone is playing their roles superbly and we have adapted well. We play all the way to end of games and we have been on from game one.

“Fingers crossed we can continue this form into the finals.”

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