Why is Usman Khawaja in India?

Red Kev Roar Guru

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    Why is Usman Khawaja in India? It’s a pretty simple question, and one any of the selectors or Cricket Australia officials would have a great deal of trouble answering to my satisfaction.

    The team for the third Test will be announced at the toss, and according to an article on the Cricket Australia website, the decision for the no.6 spot is down to Glenn Maxwell or Marcus Stoinis. This makes it very likely that we are witnessing the second Indian tour in a row that Usman Khawaja has been taken and not played a Test.

    What is the point of taking him to India if he is never going to be permitted to play?

    Commenters of all stripes, on this site and elsewhere, like to trot out the line that “Khawaja can’t play spin” (which is demonstrably false and simply requires watching his batting over the last 18 months in Australia) or that “Khawaja can’t score on the sub-continent” (which is demonstrably false as he has a first class century in Sri Lanka and a List A century in India to his name) and “Khawaja has a poor record on the sub-continent” (which with an average of 19.1 from four Tests is demonstrably true, but puts him in the same bracket of performance as David Warner who averages 25.3 from nine Tests on the sub-continent).

    In the home summer just passed, Khawaja scored 581 runs at 58.1 (including one century) with a half-century in every match, while Warner scored 592 runs at 53.8 (two centuries) including a run of three matches without a half-century. Selectors always seem to be reluctant to change a winning team, unless that change is to drop Khawaja.

    Steve Smith Usman Khawaja

    More importantly, at the moment (as was the case during the 2013 tour) the Sheffield Shield is still going in back in Australia. Khawaja, who is now the captain of Queensland, could be playing there and maintaining his imperious form from the summer. It would undoubtedly be better preparation for the upcoming Champions Trophy and Ashes than sitting on the boundary in an orange bib and visiting the local golf courses in India.

    This question needs to be asked, and I genuinely want a journalist to put this to Darren Lehmann or Trevor Hohns: “Do the selectors believe Usman Khawaja is poorly suited to playing and scoring runs on the subcontinent and is therefore not part of the team under a ‘horses for courses’ approach?”

    If yes, then why is he on tour in India instead of playing in the Sheffield Shield?

    If no, then why is he not in the Test XI given his form?

    It isn’t as if the current top order (other than Matt Renshaw and Steve Smith) is putting on a compelling case for retention this series: David Warner has returned 98 runs at 24.5, Shaun Marsh 91 runs at 23.0, and Peter Handscomb 81 runs at 20.3.

    It is quite frankly ridiculous that a touring squad of 16 was taken to India, and yet despite injuries that a squad is designed to cover, two replacements have been flown over and are quite likely to play while the original touring squad ‘reserves’ just sit around.

    If the rationale (and I have seen several posters defending the situation with this line) is that a like-for-like replacement is needed for either an all-rounder or a strike bowler, why have a squad at all? Why not send eleven players and fly over someone else when you need them?

    That is what they are doing anyway, flying over people as they want them instead of utilising the squad.

    I am still none the wiser, why is Usman Khawaja in India?

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    The Crowd Says (118)

    • March 16th 2017 @ 11:04am
      Sir Alfie said | March 16th 2017 @ 11:04am | ! Report

      Couldn’t agree more. And my greatest concern is come game one of the Ashes in November, we’ll see the selectors trot out the ‘stability’ line, and Khawaja will be left out of the test line up due to S.Marsh’s potential etc

      • March 16th 2017 @ 1:24pm
        Thunder Nation said | March 16th 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

        spot on Alfie I can see this happening too mate!

        I am also expecting Mitch Marsh to be called back into the XI for the ashes

        • March 17th 2017 @ 12:54pm
          Realist said | March 17th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

          Yep, because Marsh hasn’t been dropped due to form but due to injury. Once he is passed fit he will be recalled and the line will come out that Maxwell was only an injury replacement.

      • March 16th 2017 @ 1:45pm
        Ross said | March 16th 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

        Couldn’t agree more and fantastic article, 2 tours and the guy who has been our rock can’t get a single game, absurd

      • March 17th 2017 @ 10:26am
        Perry Bridge said | March 17th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

        Khawaja will be back in the top 5 for the Ashes.

        The surprise I gather in India is that Renshaw has adapted so well (although – gets starts and hasn’t gone on with it yet – hard to judge to harshly given the conditions though).

        Handscomb has looked comfortable at times but so far – you’re never ‘in’. An average in the 20s isn’t as bad as it looks. Coming in each time and not being knocked over straight away and developing a 40-50 run partnership has been gold.

        It ain’t a placid Gabba track!!

    • March 16th 2017 @ 11:07am
      qwetzen said | March 16th 2017 @ 11:07am | ! Report

      I don’t understand why you can’t see the obvious. UK is the backup batsman for the #1 – #5 slots.

      And re your novel plan to only send XI in a tour party, this is some sort of joke. Right?

      • Roar Guru

        March 16th 2017 @ 11:33am
        Red Kev said | March 16th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

        I am serious.
        The squad is not being used.
        Players are being flown over to cover injuries.

        If anyone is concerned about a Glenn McGrath situation then take 1x backup batsman, 1x backup wicketkeeper (by far the most serious player to have go down injured in the warm up to a test), 1x backup pace bowler and 1x backup spin bowler. A squad of 16 is clearly a waste of time and money.

        • March 16th 2017 @ 11:42am
          qwetzen said | March 16th 2017 @ 11:42am | ! Report

          So your touring party of 11 is actually 15. Not really a big difference to 16 is it?

          • Roar Guru

            March 16th 2017 @ 12:42pm
            Red Kev said | March 16th 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

            I said “if anyone is concerned” – I am not concerned. I would pick a squad and if someone got injured and had to go home, fine, I wouldn’t replace them, that’s what the squad is for, that is why it is selected.

            If Stonis and Cummins play today – what is the point of the squad at all.

            • March 16th 2017 @ 1:10pm
              Rob JM said | March 16th 2017 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

              If matt renshaw had got gastro three hours earlier then khawaja would have played. We have back up keeper in handscomb and back up bowlers. Reality is that none of the top 5 have been terrible relative to the playing conditions, which no one expected pre tour, so the 6th best batsmen in these conditions misses out. Warner would be the worst performed and doesn’t look likely. Khawaja could still play the last test.

              • March 16th 2017 @ 1:46pm
                Ross said | March 16th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

                Khawaja deserved to be in the top 5 batsman, he is our best after smith and Warner, and don’t give me the line he can’t play spin because barring smith all the others play spin wirj the same skill level

            • March 16th 2017 @ 4:17pm
              qwetzen said | March 16th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

              Red Kev said: “I said “if anyone is concerned” – I am not concerned. I would pick a squad and if someone got injured and had to go home, fine, I wouldn’t replace them, that’s what the squad is for, that is why it is selected.”

              So let’s get this crystal. How many are *you* taking in *your* squad?

            • March 17th 2017 @ 5:41am
              Matthew H said | March 17th 2017 @ 5:41am | ! Report

              The point, at the very least, is experience Kev. Touring India (or anywhere) has little things to get accustomed to. I understand that you think the touring squad players should fill the injury places, but lets not pretend anyone understands the match team selection policy. I thought the squad was pretty good except for the lack of obvious pace back-up ‘suited to conditions’ and the inclusion of the Marsh brothers (maybe two Marsh brothers counts as one under an ACB Marsh bonus scheme, making the touring squad 15… lol).

              • March 17th 2017 @ 9:20am
                Don Freo said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

                Maxwell was in the touring squad.

                Have you anti-Marsh folk already forgotten the second test?

        • March 16th 2017 @ 2:35pm
          Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | March 16th 2017 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

          Agree – and I cannot see for the life of me why Agar and Schwepson were sent to India either. I couldn’t see either of them getting in front of Lyon and O”Keefe unless one of them was injured. To be fair the selectors have been fairly logical in replacing Mitch Marsh and Starc with like for like in Stoinis and Cummins. But the choice of who should replace Mitch Marsh in the team should not necessarily be between another allrounder option. I just can’t see either Maxwell or Stoinis getting much of a bowl as Smith has relied almost exclusively on his 4 selected bowlers. So they may as well choose the best batsman remaining in the squad and Blind Freddy could see that is Usman Khawaja. I thought Uzzie was very solid in defence during last summer and I expect he would last a lot longer trying to put together a partnership at the top of the order than a Maxwell or Stoinis in the middle order.

          • March 17th 2017 @ 3:08am
            Rats said | March 17th 2017 @ 3:08am | ! Report

            The point is Lyon and O’Keefe performed. If they had got thrashed in the first two tests and Aus 2-0 down, Agar and Schwepson would have played 3rd Test. So going with 4 spinners was the right decision, I feel.

            Also, I don’t understand why the modern day teams shy away from saying someone is getting dropped due to performance.. It was never like this before. Now if they want to drop someone due to poor performance, they still would’t admit it. They say it is due to injury they are dropping.. Weird…

    • March 16th 2017 @ 11:22am
      Adrian said | March 16th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

      IF they had been convinced that he could play spin, he would have played in the first test. They obviously haven’t been convinced and hence Mitchell Marsh has played the first two tests. They still aren’t convinced and hence Maxwell is considered above him, as is the obviously poor choice of Marcus Stoinis. Where is Faulkner when you need him?

      • Roar Guru

        March 16th 2017 @ 11:34am
        Red Kev said | March 16th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

        That is my point. The selectors clearly are not convinced so why is he even on tour? Why didn’t he play the ODI series in NZ and the Shield? Why send him to the UAE and India on a glorified holiday?

        • March 16th 2017 @ 12:04pm
          vrx said | March 16th 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

          Perhaps out of all the batters, he performed the worse during the training camp at Dubai. And then in India he was out caught by the plastic chair to Maxwell’s spin. Double fail.

          Although the Dubai sessions weren’t the best guide, given Smith told Clarke that M Marsh was playing the best there, and Leimann admitted that Renshaw didn’t do well on turning decks until the match scenario.

          I also read in a SMH article earlier that UK opted out of attending the optional training sessions in Dubai. If this is true, then that could explain why he is the back-up.

          What I am saying is that things could be clearer within the squad about who is ready to play.

          • March 16th 2017 @ 12:15pm
            George said | March 16th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

            Any excuse to slot both Marsh failures in.

            • March 16th 2017 @ 1:47pm
              Ross said | March 16th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

              Not attending optional training, now I have heard every excuse

          • March 16th 2017 @ 12:36pm
            Pope Paul VII said | March 16th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

            Why isn’t the chair at leg slip?

            I’m pretty sure Khawaja has not been caught in close by a fielder off a spinner in an actual test match.

          • Roar Rookie

            March 16th 2017 @ 5:15pm
            Tana Mir said | March 16th 2017 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

            Don’t read much into what Andrew Wu writes. That bloke has no idea. He does not report but reiterate.

            • Roar Guru

              March 16th 2017 @ 5:22pm
              Anindya Dutta said | March 16th 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

              We finally agree on something Tana 🙂 Ditto on Andrew Wu. The guy has no opinion of his own and in an age when we have some very high quality cricket writing coming through, he is honestly disappointing.

              • Roar Rookie

                March 17th 2017 @ 7:27am
                Tana Mir said | March 17th 2017 @ 7:27am | ! Report

                Sports is a great uniter ?

        • March 16th 2017 @ 1:41pm
          Adrian said | March 16th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

          Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but I was actually expecting him to line up in the 1st test, except that he didn’t do well enough in the tour games. Similarly, when Mitchell Marsh was hilariously sent home, I thought that he was a good chance, but it seems that he hasn’t done enough in the nets or whatever to impress them. I think he is on edge there, and they consider him to be the 6th best batsman in Indian conditions. It is just that, unfortunately for him, they are only picking 5 and he is number 6. You do need to have a spare batsman though.

          • Roar Guru

            March 16th 2017 @ 2:34pm
            Red Kev said | March 16th 2017 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

            He didn’t do well in the tour game because he didn’t play in the tour game Adrian.

            • March 16th 2017 @ 2:55pm
              George said | March 16th 2017 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

              Ussie was shocking in that match!

            • March 16th 2017 @ 6:47pm
              Tony H said | March 16th 2017 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

              Now now Kevin, there’ll be no filthy logic on this site!

    • Roar Rookie

      March 16th 2017 @ 11:28am
      El Loco said | March 16th 2017 @ 11:28am | ! Report

      It’s crazy, the most contemptuous treatment of an elite player. How does it affect his sense of belonging in the team? I can almost see the shuffling of chairs at team lunches so Uzzie can’t sit at the cool kids’ table.

      • March 16th 2017 @ 4:08pm
        Amith said | March 16th 2017 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

        I can’t remember an elite player being treated worse then this, he is our 3rd best batsman full stop

    • Roar Rookie

      March 16th 2017 @ 11:29am
      El Loco said | March 16th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

      And I’d love to have him playing Shield, not just as a Queenslander, but so that tea lady at the Gabba who thought he was in the Pakistan touring side could become more familiar with the state captain.

    • March 16th 2017 @ 11:33am
      Sam Dastardly said | March 16th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

      The writer makes some good points here. Why is he not playing ? I don’t know, but my cynical side suggests it’s because of…wait for it…Politics. He’s probably not ” connected” enough, or perhaps he doesn’t go out of his way to suck up to the right folks. What’s been going around in Shires, Grade and Sheffield Shield since Adam was a boy in short pants – comes around in the Test Arena as well.

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