Australian cricket legend backs Usman Khawaja for Ashes lifeline

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Former Australian national selector Mark Waugh believes you can’t overlook Khawaja for the upcoming Ashes series. Gregg Porteous
Camera IconFormer Australian national selector Mark Waugh believes you can’t overlook Khawaja for the upcoming Ashes series. Gregg Porteous Credit: News Corp Australia

Former national selector Mark Waugh says you’d “have to think about” returning to Usman Khawaja as an opening batsman for the Ashes amid a “lack of depth” and lingering concussion concerns for Will Pucovski.

Khawaja impressed with a stellar knock of 174 in the second innings of Queensland’s Sheffield Shield clash against South Australia, but hasn’t played for the Australian Test team since the 2019 Ashes in England.

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Pucovski was heavily tipped to return to the Test side for the upcoming Ashes series, even as he recovered from a serious shoulder injury, but with his latest concussion – the tenth of his young career – it leaves the door wide open for Khawaja.

Speaking on RSN Central, Waugh felt there simply aren’t enough options available to overlook Khawaja returning to Justin Langer’s outfit.

“Normally, I’d say you’d probably go past him, but with the lack of depth in that opening spot, you’ve got to think about him,” Waugh said.

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Camera IconFormer Australian national selector Mark Waugh believes you can’t overlook Khawaja for the upcoming Ashes series. Gregg Porteous Credit: News Corp Australia

“He’s aged 34, we know he’s a class player; he made that 174 in the Shield match. What’s the other options?

“You’ve got Marcus Harris, who hasn’t played yet, but he is going to play these three Shield matches at the end of October, back-to-back.

“He averages 23 in Test cricket, he hasn’t really stamped himself.

“You’ve got Pucovski, who would be a walk-up starter, but once again he’s got concussion issues.

“That’s about it. Joe Burns, you’re not going to go back to him.

“So Khawaja finds himself definitely with a chance, given the lack of other guys knocking down the door.”

Some have wiped Khawaja’s chances of an Ashes recall, despite the fact he averages 40.66 when donning the baggy green.

After making what he called his best Sheffield Shield hundred in Adelaide, the former Test batsman said he only had one thing on his mind.

“I don’t even worry about Test selection or Test cricket anymore. I just play the game for Queensland and do what I need to,” Khawaja said.

“I could have easily gone out there and got myself a nice little red ink (not out) today, but didn’t because it’s not what the team needed.

“People are always going to ask me about Test cricket; that’s fair enough, there is an Ashes coming up.

“But it’s not even in the forefront. I am just trying to win games for Queensland.

“Honestly, it was probably my best hundred in Shield in terms of how hard I had to work.

“I had to work my arse off the whole time, there was no reprieve.”

Originally published as Australian cricket legend backs Usman Khawaja for Ashes lifeline

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