Usman Khawaja is back with a spectacular Test in Sydney. He comes after being sacked unceremoniously and makes twin hundreds to fly back into the list of top batters in Australia. Khawaja has been a part of the Test set-up ever since 2011, and has constantly been in and out of the side. Following his debut in 2011, Khawaja faced early troubles due to his fitness and game against spin. He continued to be in and out of the side till 2015, before finally getting a spot as a regular following the retirement of stalwarts like Michael Clarke.
Despite being a regular member of the side, Usman Khawaja’s game against spin continued to be questioned, and his selection overseas was always a doubt. He was also tried as an opener, and is a batter who has been constantly moving around the batting line-up. Termed by some as an opener, Khawaja batted at five in the recent Test. The constant movement in the batting line-up lead to Khawaja constantly looking to develop his game.
In 2016, Usman Khawaja finally got to be a regular, and it was during this period where Usman Khawaja displayed his gritty nature. He played some stylish knocks and was nearly at par with Steve Smith and David Warner for most of the period. Following the Newlands scandal, Usman Khawaja rose up the ladder to become the key batter in the side, and also got a regular run at the opening spot. It was during this period where Khawaja’s fitness improved along with his approach to playing spin. In Australia’s first Test after the Newlands issue, Usman Khawaja came out and showed his ability to play spin with a fantastic knock to save a Test in Dubai, against Pakistan.
The knock was important for both Australia and Khawaja, as they looked to fill up some key slots. Khawaja led the way, and put up some decent numbers before another bout of bad luck saw him suffer. During the 2019 Ashes, Khawaja had to make way for Marnus Labuschagne, after Marnus played well as a super sub. With Marnus undroppable after his display, Khawaja went out, and had to toil in domestic Cricket again.
Khawaja’s toil in domestic cricket didn’t begin too well. He struggled in his first season after the axe, but went on to have prolific seasons after, knocking on the doors of selection again. With some tough runs over two seasons, and a middle-order spot open, Australia picked Khawaja along with Travis Head as the two were left fighting for one spot. Travis Head got first crack in the side, but after testing positive, Head had to make way for Khawaja in Sydney.
With a door open, Khawaja smashed his way through, and hit two brilliant centuries in contrasting situations. In the first innings Australia had a mini-wobble, and in the second Khawaja was left to score some quick runs. His two centuries propelled up the list in the leading run-scorers for the ongoing Ashes series, and going by his performance Australia will have some headaches.
Travis Head hasn’t been too bad as well, but picking one of the two will be an incredible task for Australia. Another option for Australia is to put Khawaja at the top, dropping Marcus Harris. Doing so will allow Khawaja to remain in the side, but will leave him needing to adapt to another role yet again. Khawaja though has timed his return nicely. With a tour to Pakistan approaching he will be confident of maintaining his place, and will play a key role in a nation that needs good players of spin.