Khawaja ecstatic to finally pin down 'dream' ton
Usman Khawaja wondered if this moment would ever arrive. When he made his Test debut 1768 days ago, Ricky Ponting was still officially captain (though he did not play that match), Tim Nielsen was coach and Julia Gillard was prime minister. Michael Clarke came and went, then Steven Smith took over. Mickey Arthur came and went, now it's Darren Lehmann. The prime ministers since then are too numerous to list.
Through it all Khawaja kept dreaming, and hoping, and finally his first Test century arrived, late in the afternoon on the first day of the 2015-16 home summer, on his adopted home ground. The release of emotion was obvious in his celebration, a running leap and wave of his bat, before his batting partner and captain, Smith, gave him a hug.
"It was just elation, the biggest amount of emotional relief," Khawaja said. "I've wanted to get a Test hundred for Australia my whole life. There were times over the last three or four years I thought it might not happen. When it did happen the build-up of a lot of emotions came out because it's what I always dreamt about.
"The first one is always the hardest, I've said, so it's massive for me. I scored my first first-class century here and now my first Test century. I'm just really excited about the day we've had as a team, that's as good a day as you get. We've got a lot of hard work coming up but I'm very excited at the moment. And I like to live in the now, so I'm just enjoying this at the moment."
Khawaja's hundred came with a swivelled pull for four, and it came from 123 deliveries, an innings in which he showed the kind of positive intent that had sometimes been lacking in his earlier stints as a Test batsman. He lifted the spinner Mark Craig for two classy sixes and never looked like getting bogged down, which had been a problem earlier in his career.
"The hard work was done at the top by Davey and Burnsy, they batted beautifully," Khawaja said of the 161-run opening stand between David Warner and Joe Burns. "It allows us at No. 3 and No. 4 to come out and play a few more shots because the ball is a bit older and the bowlers are a bit tired... It's a real nice wicket out there and it was easy to play positive for that reason.
"I just kept looking to score runs. It makes it easier when you have Davey at the other end, it takes a bit of pressure off you when he's going, you don't feel like you have to score very fast. I kept looking for runs, as you do when you're playing well. Fortunately I got a few in my area and I got off to a flyer, which doesn't always happen, and kept the momentum going."
There was a moment of concern for Khawaja when he collided with a New Zealand fieldsman while completing a run, and immediately hobbled around in discomfort. Khawaja had surgery on his left knee after suffering a serious injury last summer, but he was able to bat on and complete his hundred without any further problems.
"I got a little jar on my left knee, the one I had surgery on," he said. "It hurt like crap. I was making sure I was all right. It was sore for 10 overs but by the end of it, it was pretty good."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale