Cricket: Usman Khawaja has become the forgotten man at the selection table

@Hayward_AdamK

Former Australian batsman Usman Khawaja has seemingly drifted into obscurity since he was dropped from the national side after the third test of the 2019 Ashes series in England.

In the recent debates surrounding selection for the upcoming test series against India, we have hardly heard a peep about Khawaja, which may suggest he has slipped well down the list of potential batting options for Australia’s top order.

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Leading the way in selection talks is incumbent opener Joe Burns, who has struggled to score a run all summer; 22-year-old young gun Will Pucovski who registered back-to-back double centuries in the Sheffield Shield but continues to be hampered with concussion issues; Victorian opener Marcus Harris who also plundered a double century in the Sheffield Shield and promising all-rounder Cameron Green, who made his One Day International debut this past series.

37-year-old veteran Shaun Marsh has also been mentioned for a test re-call after Australian coach Justin Langer confirmed he is being considered.

Khawaja’s chances of reclaiming his number three spot in the test line up had completely evaporated last summer with the rise of star batsman Marnus Labuschagne who has cemented that position with four centuries @63.43 from his 14 tests and has rocketed to number four on the test batting rankings.

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It would be fair to say that Khawaja’s form in 2020 has not warranted selection, but he did manage a century in his most recent Sheffield Shield appearance against South Australia, which is more than what Queensland teammate Joe Burns has been able to muster so far this summer.

Unfortunately for Khawaja, he is unable to consolidate on his first-class hundred and make a case for test selection because the Sheffield Shield season is now on hold due to the Big Bash tournament.

The summer schedule is one of the pet peeves of test aspirants with the domestic T20 competition played during the international test series so the only way for players to press their selection claims, is to either score big or take wickets in the T20 format, or at the local club level.  

Khawaja does have a decent test record at home with six of his eight centuries scored in Australia at an average of 52.97, compared to just 28.69 away.

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There does not seem to be much enthusiasm or talk of any kind in regard to Khawaja’s chances of test selection and it is striking how he is completely out of favour with Langer and the selectors. It has been well documented that behind the scenes, Khawaja does not take a backwards step and is not afraid to speak his mind, push back and express opposing views to the national coach.

Khawaja, who turns 34 on the second day of the first test, is now in the twilight years of his career and one has to wonder if he will ever play for Australia again. He has certainly never lacked the talent and has a reasonable test record. He also has two ODI centuries @42.00 and one half-century @26.77 in his nine T20 internationals.

But the fact he is not on the selectors radar is certainly perplexing, to say the least.