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Why Usman Khawaja must play international cricket in Australia

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Roar Rookie
3rd October, 2019
14

After some less than satisfactory performances in the first three Tests of the 2019 Ashes series, Usman Khawaja was rightly dropped in favour of the in-form Marnus Labuschagne.

But with two upcoming Test series against Pakistan and New Zealand on Australian soil, Khawaja must be picked to play on pitches that he can comfortably dominate on.

Khawaja has had no shortage of critics in his time as an international player, being dropped numerous times before even playing his tenth Test match for Australia.

With scores of 13, 40, 36, 2, 8 and 23 in England this year, the decision to drop Khawaja was definitely warranted, with growing fears surrounding his ability to play in English conditions.

The overall statistics do not make for great reading either, with Khawaja averaging just over 40 in Test cricket, but only 19.66 in England.

Usman Khawaja

(Lindsey Parnaby / AFP / Getty Images)

Similar accusations regarding spin were labelled against Khawaja in 2018, as Australia travelled to the United Arab Emirates to play Pakistan.

These accusations held some merit, with Khawaja averaging just 17.66 in Asia at the time. However, a match-saving knock of 141 in Dubai showed his ability to fight in trying conditions.

Now that the English summer of cricket is over, we can look to the two upcoming Test series on home turf against Pakistan and New Zealand, in which Khawaja deserves to play.

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Khawaja has enjoyed a dominant return to first-class cricket, blasting two centuries in three days for Queensland in the Marsh Cup.

His scores of 112 from 125 balls and 138 from 126 balls highlight his damaging skills in Australian conditions, where he averages 52.97 in Test matches.

Six of Khawaja’s eight Test centuries have come in Australian conditions, something that former Australian coach Darren Lehman believes the selectors should consider.

“If you look at his record in Australia on its own, it’s outstanding,” Lehmann told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Again, it will get down to Shield performances I suppose but… in Australia, he has been very good.”

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Khawaja may also help solve Australia’s opening dilemma, as an option to replace the struggling David Warner, Marcus Harris and Cameron Bancroft.

As an opening batsman, Khawaja has played five Test matches, making 484 runs from seven innings at an average of 96.80, an impressive statistic that will surely cross the selectors’ minds.

I am by no means a huge Khawaja fan, as someone who has heavily criticised him in both the past and recently in England.

However, with such an outstanding record on Australian soil, surely Khawaja deserves another chance to prove himself on the international stage.