Usman Khawaja was left angry and frustrated after being sidelined from the national team more than a year ago but he says a candid chat with coach Justin Langer, has helped him get over the initial disappointment and focus on a comeback to the Australian team.
The 33-year-old had amassed 1,085 ODI runs at a healthy average of 49.31 last year but didn’t manage to find a place in Australia’s 50-over limited squad for tours of India and South Africa early in 2019, and was also left out from the 21-man group, which is currently in England for a limited-over series consisting of 3 T20Is and as many ODIs.
Usman Khawaja Disappointed After Omission
Usman Khawaja was also omitted for the home Test series against Pakistan and New Zealand following his exclusion from the 2019 Ashes series and it has been more than a year since he last played for the national team.
“There was a bigger squad (for the UK white-ball tour) so it was a bit disappointing, but I mean I’ve been dropped and in and out so many times that I’ve just learned to deal with it, much better than I would’ve say 10 years ago,” Khawaja told cricket.com.au.
“I was a lot more disappointed when I first got left out of Indian tour, because at that time I felt like I very much belonged in that team, I was averaging 50 in one-day cricket for that period of time, I was in the top three or four run-scorers for the world in that year, so I didn’t really understand it.”
“It was a really frustrating decision, and I was really angry for a period of that time.”
Khawaja, who has so far scored 2887 runs and 1554 runs in 44 Tests and 40 ODIs respectively, said a frank conversation with chief coach Langer calmed his mind.
“Fortunately I talked to JL (Langer) about three or four weeks after that happened … and got it all out in the open. It was a really good chat to have, and after that I’ve been really good; I’ve focused again on just worrying about my cricket.”
“You want to ask selectors if there’s anything specific that’s sticking out (regarding non-selection) but in this case that’s not it; in this case, I’m a top-order batsman and you’ve got Steve Smith, Dave Warner and the captain, Aaron Finch, ahead of me.”
“I was hoping to be a spare batsman in that top order which I thought I might’ve been this (UK tour), but I wasn’t, and that’s OK.”
Usman Khawaja averages a shade above 40 in both Tests and ODIs. He debuted in 2011 in Tests and 2013 in ODIs. He has played in only 9 T20Is since debuting in 2016. He last played Test/ODI in July/ August 2019.
Usman Khawaja: Performance In Big Bash League And Tests May Give A Chance Of Comeback In Limited Overs
Usman Khawaja said he is close to making a comeback and will look to earn his place back with a good performance in the upcoming season.
“There’s Big Bash, plenty of red-ball cricket, and I still feel like there’s a lot left for me on the horizon, and I’m making sure I’m focusing on that stuff rather than worrying about not being picked because I know how quickly things can change in cricket.”
“In four-day and Test match cricket I’ve had really good conversations with JL, too, and at the end of the day, I feel like I’m really close there.”
“If I score runs, I put my hand up and give myself the best chance to bat in Test cricket anywhere in that top six. That’s all I can do.”‘
Usman Khawaja, who has scored 1380 runs in 42 matches for Sydney Thunder in Big Bash League, said he would like to explore a career in the various T20 leagues once he retires from international cricket.