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Opinion

Khawaja deserves his chance in Hobart

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Roar Guru
7th January, 2022
15

Usman Khawaja’s sublime century at the SCG has surely secured his place in the XI at Hobart.

Martin Love was left out of the Australian team after scoring an unbeaten century in 2003. Stuart Law was dropped from the Australian team after an unbeaten half century in 1995.

But these were different eras when the Australian team were verging on unbeatable. The current team is not at that level yet.

Khawaja will play at Bellerive. The question is: where in the batting line-up?

Travis Head secured his spot in the medium term with his century at the Gabba. So, the two players most under pressure are Marcus Harris and Cameron Green.

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Green may seem the most obvious choice. He has only averaged 14.25 across the Ashes series, which was helped along by an unbeaten 33 in the second innings at Adelaide. He has looked overly tentative against England’s quicks and has been caught on the back foot against spin.

However, after failing to take a wicket in the 2020-21 series against India, Green has seven wickets at 11 in this series at time of writing. His scalps include Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Ollie Pope, so he has proved an integral part of Australia’s attack.

He is only 22. Australia needs to persevere with a player who is our most promising all rounder in many years. After making runs in the Sheffield Shield already this season, Green’s best place to work on his flaws is – strangely enough – the Test arena, where he is tested against high quality all the time.

To take some pressure off him, maybe his position for now is No.7, with Alex Carey moving one up in the order. That should allow him to play more freely, similar to what he has done consistently for Western Australia. It also would mean that Carey would need to play a bit tighter, which he is more than capable of.

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Marcus Harris has been in the runs of late, with a hard working 76 at the MCG, followed by a 38 in the first innings at the SCG. However, this has masked over his average of 25.21 across a career of 14 Tests. Crucially, he is yet to make a century.

It would seem harsh after his score in Melbourne, but Harris’ failure to convert starts into three figures at this level is telling. He does have a tendency to play at balls that he should leave alone. For that reason alone, Harris is likely to face the axe in Hobart.

It’s a small sample size of seven Tests, but Khawaja has averaged just under 97 opening for Australia. No one expects that to continue but, at 35 years of average, he should be a lock for the rest of this series and Pakistan at least.

If more scores come, an extended run in this Australian team may await.

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