Australia’s Usman Khawaja looks beyond stop-gap Sydney role

The Australia batter, who replaces Travis Head for the Ashes Test in Sydney, hopes to play more Tests this year.

FILE PHOTO: Usman Khawaja hasn’t played a Test since the Ashes in England in 2019.   -  AP

While Usman Khawaja is ready to fill in for Travis Head in the fourth Ashes Test against England, the veteran Australia batsman hopes his would not be a stop-gap role this year. Head will miss the Sydney contest, which begins on Wednesday, after testing positive for COVID-19, and Khawaja is set to play his first Test in more than two years.

Khawaja is aware that Head, whose match-winning 152 in the Brisbane opener set the tone for Australia’s unassailable 3-0 lead in the series, is likely to reclaim the spot in the final Test in Hobart but believes he can still contribute to Australia.

“It’s one of those things where even if I do play, it’ll only be for one game,” Khawaja told Cricket Australia (CA).

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“I understand that situation ... hopefully I can go out there and score a hundred and do well for the team in the absence of ‘Heady’.”

“Even if that doesn’t happen, there’s a lot of cricket still to come up,” he said.

Australia will tour Pakistan in March-April and Khawaja hopes to be part of the squad.

“I’ll potentially have one game for Australia here, but even if that doesn’t happen, I know there’s still ...a lot of cricket on the subcontinent which I feel I’m very suited to.

“I’m just putting my head down, making sure I’m working really hard and doing the best I can for Australia whenever I get the opportunity.”

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Should he get that in Sydney, the Queensland captain is confident of making the most of it despite sitting out the first three matches of the series. “It’s always nicer when you’re coming off games. I haven’t played for probably a month now, but it shouldn’t take too long. If I play and get out there, bat for half an hour and get into it, I should find that sync again.”

Khawaja turned 35 last month and said he felt fit enough to carry on.

“I still feel quite young in my head. As long as that’s there, I still have the fire spark and as long as the body’s holding up...I’ll keep playing the game.”

Cricket Australia confirmed all squad members and support staff returned negative COVID-19 results from Friday’s testing.

 

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