By Taryn Elder
Meet Usman Khawaja, arguably Australia’s most in-form batsman who recently helped Sydney Thunder win the Big Bash League Grand Final. The cricketer, known for his 1000-watt smile, this week re-joins Australia for the One Day International series in New Zealand. Here are ten fast facts to know about the star player.
1. Let's start with the basics...
Usman Tariq Khawaja was born in Islamabad, Pakistan on November 18, 1986, which makes him just shy of 30 years of age. His family immigrated to New South Wales when he was just a kid and he’s called Australia home ever since (despite a few winters spent overseas playing in the UK).
In true Australian fashion: ‘Uzzie’, of course!
3. Hidden talents?
Usman is actually a qualified pilot and gained his commercial pilot’s license by completing a bachelor degree in Aviation from the University of New South Wales. In fact, he could actually legally fly before he could drive! Once Uzzie got his studies out of the way he got back to focusing his one true passion, cricket!
4. So when did he start playing cricket?
Usman started playing cricket as a young kid but really hit his strides when he started playing representative cricket for the NSW Under-19 squad, taking home Player of the Australian Under-19 Championship in 2005. Since then, Khawaja has gone on to play for the 2006 Under-19 Australian squad, Randwick Petersham Cricket Club, the New South Wales Blues and made his Australian Test debut during the 2011 Sydney Ashes series, replacing Ricky Ponting at the all-important number three position. He’s also spent time playing with Queensland, captaining his adopted state in this year’s domestic competitions, and played a starring role in Sydney Thunder's first ever Big Bash title this summer.
5. When he’s not on the road you'll find Uzzie....
In sunny Brisbane, his new adopted state. He shares a pad with Brisbane Heat player Ben Cutting. Because Cutting is known to friends and family as 'a bit OCD' , Usman sometimes moves particular items around the house to see if he notices...and doesn't mind posting a few photos of Ben cleaning their house.
He's also best mates with Australian cricketer Joe Burns and the two are regularly snapped getting up to some funny stuff.
6. Something you may not know about 'Uzzie'?
He is the first Australian Muslim to play Test cricket for Australia, making his Test debut during the 2011 Ashes series. He refrains from drinking alcohol, due to his Muslim faith.
7. Future TV star in the making?
Usman has actually been the face of a few tongue-in-cheek videos for cricket.com.au, not to long ago creating a MTV Cribs style episode of his hotel room on tour. See for yourself:
He also recently fronted the camera to give a cheeky tour of his local gym. There’s some pretty funny one liners in here:
8. He's a natural born performer...on and off the field
Yes...Uzzie recently enjoyed every moment when he performed for a group of excited kids on stage during Milo In2Cricket event, with teammates Mitch Marsh and Joe Burns (both playing Christmas trees). We’re not exactly sure what character Uzzie was playing, but the kids certainly loved it!
9. Move over Kanye...there's a new style master!
Uzzie is known for being one of the most stylish players on tour. He doesn’t mind mixing it up when it comes to his fashion, regularly uploading pics to his social media accounts detailing his street style 'get ups'. He also recently featured in our top fashion pics for this year’s Allan Border Medal Red Carpet Verdict.
10. What a joker...
Yep, ‘Uzzie’ doesn’t mind having a laugh, which his teammates love! Whether it’s uploading some hilarious photos on his Insta account, or his antics on tour with the guys, everyone knows that he’s always up for a bit of fun.
Follow Usman Khawaja on Instagram.