Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13

Khawaja earns chance against Sri Lanka

Brydon Coverdale

November 30, 2012

Comments: 42 | Text size: A | A

Usman Khawaja plays the ball through the off side, South Australia v Queensland, Sheffield Shield, October 26, 2012
Usman Khawaja will captain the CA Chairman's XI © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Alex Doolan | Usman Khawaja
Series/Tournaments: Sri Lanka tour of Australia

Usman Khawaja and Alex Doolan will have the perfect chance to push their claims to become Ricky Ponting's Test replacement after being named in the Chairman's XI squad to take on Sri Lanka in Canberra next week. Khawaja will captain the side for the three-day game and while most members of the team are younger players who have been rewarded for some early-season form, all eyes will be on Khawaja and Doolan.

Cricket Australia emphasised that the squad was chosen before Ponting made his decision to retire from international cricket, meaning the match is not intended as a bat-off for Test selection. Phillip Hughes is also a strong contender to take Ponting's place, although it would require a reshuffle in the Test batting order, but for Khawaja especially runs against the Sri Lankans would be a case of perfect timing.

Khawaja, 25, is third on the Sheffield Shield run tally this summer with 438 runs at 39.81 and his century in extremely difficult conditions in Hobart earlier this month was especially impressive. Doolan, 27, appears an outside chance at best of earning a Test call-up but a hundred against the Sri Lankans to add to his unbeaten 161 against South Africa for Australia A would form a compelling case, in addition to his 409 Shield runs at 58.42.

"It is a talented team that has an ideal mix of youth and experience," the national selector John Inverarity said. "Usman Khawaja has been nominated as captain. He, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Doolan and Scott Henry have been released from their BBL franchises to take this opportunity to further their experience in the longer form of the game.

"They are players who have shown some excellent form in recent months and will be looking to enhance their claims for higher honours. Dean Solway from the ACT is a talented young batsman who will be keen to impress on his home turf.

Scott Henry, Marcus Harris, Travis Head and Sam Whiteman are young left-handed batsmen. Each has produced at least one outstanding first-class innings recently and Whiteman will be given an opportunity to display his skills as an accomplished wicket-keeper. Luke Butterworth is an experienced medium-fast swing bowler who bowls with great accuracy and will provide great stability to the attack."

The match is Sri Lanka's only warm-up ahead of the first Test, which starts in Hobart on December 14. The CA Chairman's XI take on Sri Lanka from December 6 to 8 at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

CA Chairman's XI Marcus Harris, Scott Henry, Usman Khawaja (capt), Alex Doolan, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Sam Whiteman (wk), Luke Butterworth, Chadd Sayers, Matthew Gale, Ashton Turner, Dean Solway.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Lankan_Pride1981 on (December 5, 2012, 0:47 GMT)

this team will be able to beat sri lanka. cant understand why sri lanka did not pick ajantha mendis

Posted by Candle72 on (December 3, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

I think Usman Khawaja would be a better choice to replace Ricky Ponting. He should be given a fair chance to prove his place in Australian XI. Pick up Khawaja...

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (December 2, 2012, 12:12 GMT)

@Moppa, @Meety and @Ross_fleming are correct, given we are talking about the number 4 slot or at best 3 Khawaja is the best option in the coutnry for this. Hughes is a opener, noting more to be said there. In today's Ryobie cup Khawaja got another high score of 85 and continues to pile runs. We can't reshuffle the entire batting order just to make room for Hughes, doesn't work that way.

Posted by hycIass on (December 2, 2012, 10:52 GMT)

I said at the start of the season that i wasn't sure about Khawaja and in particular his issues regards his trigger movements in his technique. Khawaja continues to prove me wrong, i was not sure about him earlier in the season but he is scoring runs and that's all can be asked of him. NSW won the toss today and put the Bulls into bat as it rained in the morning and there was a bit of juice in the pitch but he handled the tough conditions with the familiar ease he has shown all season. Again he got runs in tough conditions to show that he is exactly the batsman we need in our top order given our familiar top order collapses. Hopefully he gets a big one in the chairman's X1 to cement his spot in the Australian team at number 4, he is the best man for the job.

Posted by KhanMitch on (December 2, 2012, 10:44 GMT)

@Moppa and Macca_Mat have summed it up the best, given the position we are talking about is 4 or 3 Khawaja is the best candidate, Hughes is the best opener we have. Watson is much better at facing the faster bowlers so keep him at 3 and bring Khawaja at 4. There is no way Hughes can be bought in at 4, he has never batted at that position in shield but Khawaja has.

Posted by KhanMitch on (December 2, 2012, 10:42 GMT)

@Hyclass Khwaaja got a 85 in overcast conditions when NSW send the Bulls into bat. His running between the wickets looked sharp and what about his brilliant catch at covers. Surely its time even for you who is consistently negative about him to acknowledge his talent. Given the position vacant is a number 4 he is the best candidate to fill that spot. And yes he is a great ambassador for the Asian migrants in Australia and has opened doors for many youngsters who previoulsy didn't bellieve they could earn a baggy green. Classy left hander.

Posted by Meety on (December 1, 2012, 14:18 GMT)

@Edwards_A on (December 01 2012, 11:40 AM GMT) - I didn't actually say that it should be Khawaja in for Punter. I do think he has the inside running though. I think the issue now is, Oz have the chance now to restructure the batting line up. Does Watto go down the order? Does Pup go up the order? IMO, - IF, Oz slot a "new" batsmen in @ #6, it almost definately has to be Khawaja (Maxwell 2nd for the allround option, maybe at the expense of Watto). IF Oz slot the "new" batsmen in @ #3 - it could be either Hughes or Khawaja, with Hughes having the better record this summer he stands a real chance of being selected @ #3. @ross_fleming on (December 01 2012, 11:44 AM GMT) - rightly or wrongly, I think it may not be JUST about #3 or #4, it could be about #6 too. There are a lot of variables, I do rate Hughes as a genuine chance for a spot in the top 3, I think Khawaja is the prime candidate for a #6 spot. The variables are where will Pup, Huss & Watto (if at all), bat?????

Posted by KhanMitch on (December 1, 2012, 11:44 GMT)

Agree with Moppa and Meety, the spot in question is 3 or 4, Khawaja is a better option then Hughes in this spot as Hughes is good opener. If we were talking about the opening slot then I would say Hughes is the man. But for Punter's replacment it has to be Khawaja without a doubt.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (December 1, 2012, 11:40 GMT)

@Meety agree with you chapm, Khawaja is the man to replace Punter, I like Hughes but he is our future opener, Khawaja will slot in well at 4.

Posted by Mary_786 on (December 1, 2012, 11:09 GMT)

I won't even waste my time trying to get Hyclass to see impartially as he writes only on Khawja and only in a negative manner. The fact is that Khawaja was asked to improve on 2 things, fielding and running between wickets, he has done both in abundance this year. Furthermore he has scored on extremely difficult tracks against Tasmania where he outscored Tasmania and also against a star NSW attack where he outscored the likes of Clark, Warner and Watson. He has the best technique out of all the younger batsman going around and he has to be the best replacement for Punter. The fact he is captain against the Sri Lankans in the warm up game shows the selectors are seeing the improvements they wanted. Good luck to him. Hughes is our long term opener not a batsman to come in at 4 and we can't reshuffle the entire batting lineup for him.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 1, 2012, 5:41 GMT)

I would have thought that George Bailey was the leading contender, with Peter Nevill the next best. Khawaja doesn't look ready to me and picking Doolan would be as silly as it was to pick Rob Quiney.

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 1, 2012, 5:01 GMT)

Unsure why we are not playing an Aust A squad against SL?... Almost insulting in their only warm up match... On recent form (anyone remember the Argus? - CA, NSP, Coaches?) there are a number of players that should be playing before the Test series starts - after that we've only got ODI 20/20 before India, England...

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 1, 2012, 5:00 GMT)

@Dashgar... Been a strong supporter of Maxwell since his Shield debut... Though stats don't always mean anything, both Glenn & Andrew Symonds have very similar stats both batting & bowling in Shield... Both debuted in ODI's @23y.o. yet Symonds had to bide his time with such a strong Oz batting squad... I'd be taking either Maxwell or O'Keefe with me to India next year - anyone else notice how many overs O'Keefe has put in this season? - 2nd highest for NSW after Dougie atm...

Posted by hyclass on (December 1, 2012, 5:00 GMT)

With respect to Tasmania, their batting has often been poor this season. For reasons that arent yet evident, they appear a shadow of last seasons unit. My questions are-if Khawaja is chosen and after SL against which all batsmen should dine out in Australian conditions, he fails, whose fault will it be then given his Test average when at his peak was only 29. If the same chairman of selectors again publicly criticises his running, fielding and inconsistency, whose fault will it be then? And if he is again dropped after another 6 Tests with an average of 29 and S/R of 39, will you then be satisfied or will it again be unfair biased treatment? Or will you continue to pursue all Khawaja runs as having been worth double everyone elses as has long been disrespectfully to his team mates,the case in all your blogs?

Posted by Redbac on (December 1, 2012, 4:53 GMT)

Gary Putland should be a chance, a Redbacks man I'm pleasedf to see Sayers and head getting a go. The CA XI and similar outfits exist for experimentation. If not now, then Putland must be a 50 over chance for higher honours.

Posted by hyclass on (December 1, 2012, 4:34 GMT)

Who cares if he was born overseas. He came here when he was 3. This is Australia,not the sub-continent. He's Australian-not sub-continental. The only reason to select him is if his record indicates that he is the best candidate. He was given 6 Tests and averaged 29 at a S/R of 39. That was when his 1st class average was close to 54. Its since dropped to 43 and regularly been lower. His Shield average this season is 39 which is lower again and last season was far lower. The critcisms of him made in the press and on this site by the chairman of selectors were made only a few weeks ago, making them very relevant to his current actions, particularly in light of him not even being selected for Australia A. He has 2 x 1st class 100s in 20 months. Every piece of information is available on this site. When I blog, it's soley with reference to his record and comments of the chairman of selectors. The only biased being exhibited and expressed here is by those with a sub-continental agenda.

Posted by Moppa on (November 30, 2012, 22:44 GMT)

On the general Hughes v Khawaja debate, firstly I think the spot available is number 3. Watson certainly hasn't nailed it down and Clarke and Hussey are so settled at 5 and 6 you'd be mad to move them. So I would bring in Khawaja at 3 and move Watto to 4 for Hobart. I think 4 is a good spot for Watson, incidentally, although I had hopes he could make a good go of 3. I certainly accept the alternative view that Hughes, not Khawaja, should get the gig at 3. I think he has a long-term Test future as he seems to have rediscovered the method that made him successful early in his career. However, I would hate to disturb that by putting him in in a different position, and I think he could do with a little more time in the shield to consolidate his game and confidence. Cowan and Warner won't last forever, and Hughes will be ready when one of them gets dropped

Posted by Moppa on (November 30, 2012, 22:32 GMT)

@Dashgar, I disagree that Maxwell is close to a baggy green (or if he is, that he should be). You say he 'just needs to step up in both disciplines'... so, in other words, he is short of Test-class as either a batsman or bowler. To me that indicates he is a bits and pieces all-rounder that is not, and will probably never will, be a genuine Test cricketer. Happy to be proven wrong but pretty confident on this one. Interested in your views on Handscomb - have noticed his name several times but of course never seen him play - in what ways is he like Michael Clarke? If he can come in in the lower-middle order and make regular double centuries then let's get him in the Test team!!! ;-)

Posted by hris on (November 30, 2012, 15:20 GMT)

im curious to see how Travis Head and Ashton Turner go. Looked pretty impressive in the u-19 wc. One batting allrounder, the other bowling allrounder.

Posted by Gordo85 on (November 30, 2012, 12:51 GMT)

venkatesh018 I fully agree with you. Ferguson should be in there and given a chance at Test level. And heck he has played international cricket in the past for Australia so maybe that will help him to do well or better than compared to someone who hasn't. And the same goes with Cosgrove.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (November 30, 2012, 12:40 GMT)

Fantastic to see Khawaja as captain for the team, he will do well. @hyclass you are back as usual with your unfair critisms of Khawaja. This is getting too predicatable mate, let me correct you. Khawaja's average dropped once he was unfairly dropped from the Aussie side when only 1 game before being dropped he was run out in Gabba when on 40 and scored a game high 80 against South Africa(world's best bowling attack) in a record 400 chase. If he got half the chances some of the other young players got we would have a world class 3.The likes of Border, Taylor, Waugh and Inevarity listed his technique as the best in the country among the young batsman around. He is a great ambassador and representative for Sub continent players around Australia.My kids can't stop talking about him and force me to take them to any of his games. I hope he gets a big one on Thursday.

Posted by Mary_786 on (November 30, 2012, 12:34 GMT)

Hyclass as usual you only comment negative comments about Khawaja, its interesting we never see you comment on any other player. Edward_L is correct, Khawaja's fielding and running between the wickets looks very sharp in the Ryobi cup and Arthur acknowledged these improvements a few weeks back. His 138 against Tasmania was more then Tasmania's total of 95 and they had a star batting lineup. He also scored 2 50s against a star NSW attack. Give credit where its due mate. If Khawaja scores a big one in the Chairman's X1 then he is ready to take Punter's spot.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (November 30, 2012, 12:15 GMT)

HycIass agree with you on the positive comments on Khawaja, he is a fantastic talent who scored 138 against Tasmania when they as a team only got 95. And that Tasmanian team included the likes of Bailey, Paine, Cosgrove, and Doolan. He also top scored against NSW which included a star NSW attack of Starc, Hazelwood, Bollinger and Copeland. For me the most impressive improvement has been his running between the wickets and fielding which everyone has seen in the Ryobi cup. A big score in this game and he will be picked as Punter's replacement which is well deserved.

Posted by ThumpingWin on (November 30, 2012, 11:48 GMT)

Hope the selectors give Ponting's place to a worthy player.. Who can carry his legacy all through again...

Posted by crickeymate on (November 30, 2012, 11:47 GMT)

Why not CJ Gannon instead of older Gale?

Posted by ozwriter on (November 30, 2012, 11:45 GMT)

khawaja has really looked impressive this season. sharp in the field, quick between wickets and playing beautifully with the bat. with the legend ponting's departure, khawaja would be my preferred option to slot into no.4 after watson.

Posted by Dashgar on (November 30, 2012, 11:23 GMT)

Good team selected here. It's not an Australia A game, there are going to be a few random players thrown in as well as some kids. But the guys who deserve a shot to impress are there and some guys for the future as well. I hope Travis Head makes some runs here. He's a good young player who could be a future baggy green. Would like to have seen Peter Handscomb get a go with the gloves or in the middle order. Very classy player in the Michael Clarke mould. Also good to see Maxwell get another shot to impress. Has been good with bat and ball this season, just needs to make that extra step up in both disciplines and he could be close to a baggy green as well.

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 11:05 GMT)

@Hyclass, I think Invers is allowed to change his mind and pick a player again if he shows he has improved on areas of criticism. I don't see anything confusing at all in that. Anyway, it wasn't Invers that dropped him in the first place, was it? I don't think this xi has any bearing at all on near term test selection. I really only see Khawaja as being able to push nearer to selection from this team. I think they just had a look around and picked up a dozen young blokes who they are curious about to give the Sri Lankans a hit out before boxing day. Trying to read any more than that into it is pure speculation.

Posted by hyclass on (November 30, 2012, 10:37 GMT)

Hughes batted numerous times with success at number three for his County side in the off season.He also owns a Test 126 vs SL along with 115 & 160 v SA.There is no argument against an opener moving to three but certainly some against a number five or six opening. Watson is a rare exception though his batting continues to fall away and his results are more a series of cameos. Hussey opened for WA for a long time before very successfully moving down the order for Aus. Hughes is an excellent stroke maker and has added the pull and hook to his game in the last 12 months. His form hasnt touched the heights of his first 18 months when he won Shield Player of the Year, Bradman Medallist, Steve Waugh Medallist, a raft of records in Wisden and 1637 runs in 10 games at 96 with 8 centuries on 3 continents. Even so, his record of 20 1st class centuries,vast improvement in List A and T20 averages and superior form this year should put him ahead of the pack. Inverarity named him as a wanted player.

Posted by hyclass on (November 30, 2012, 10:25 GMT)

For the last 20 months, my observations on Khawaja's failing form have been completely vindicated. I first made those views public when his average was pushing 54. Its now barely 43. While there has been some slight recent improvement, a Shield average of 39 this season and 0 and 8 from a combined 41 balls in his last match are hardly a recommendation for higher honours, particularly given his previous failure at Test level when in far better form. He is barely the best player in his state side at this point. Given his non-selection in the Aus A team and public rebuking by Inverarity, he has some work to do to restore his image. The exclusion of Hughes may indicate the intention to include him in the Test squad, particularly given superior form this season in both formats. SL lack a quality attack in Aus conditions and have just been beaten in NZ. Whichever batsman is selected, they will have a rare opportunity against doubtful opposition.Its time for them to stand up and be counted.

Posted by Meety on (November 30, 2012, 10:14 GMT)

@ hyclass on (November 30 2012, 05:51 AM GMT) - I think if Ponting's retirement means a #6 spot is up for grabs, Khawaja is almost certainly the man. If Oz throw a batsmen in the deep end @ #3 (not desirable, eg Qinney) - I would say it could be Hughes @#3. I am prepared to give him(Ussie), the benefit of the doubt in regards his last match v NSW, it's not like Bollinger is a complete hack. The "left field" selection, IMO - in light of a tour of India looming, would be Maxwell @ #6. I think the NSP are VERY tempted by him. He will need some runs in the meantime.

Posted by Big_Maxy_Walker on (November 30, 2012, 9:55 GMT)

are they joking with harris, henry, head, whitemanm gale, turner and solway? wheres cutting, bird, feldman, gannon etc

Posted by hycIass on (November 30, 2012, 8:23 GMT)

I had my reservations on Khawaja earlier in the season but not only has he got runs but he has improved his running between the wickets and fielding from what I have seen in the Ryobi games. If he does well in this game then he should be chosen. I am a fan of Hughes but its good he has been left out as we need a number 4 batsman and Hughes is a natural opener and not the best player of spin. Doolan is also class and if he impresses then he can jump ahead.

Posted by Mary_786 on (November 30, 2012, 6:49 GMT)

This is a splendid opportunity for both Doolan and Khawaja to put their name forward. I am a fan of Hughes but i think he is best suited to opening. For the number 4 spot it has to be either Doolan or Khawaja. For me Khawaja is slightly ahead as he has 4 man of the match awards against NSW and Tasmania on tough pitches from the last 2 games, the last of which included 138 while Tasmania got 95 as a team. To add to that his team the Bulls are top of the shield table which helps his case as well.Saying that if Doolan get a big one against the Sri Lankans then you can't ignore perfomance so reward the guy who performs in this game.

Posted by KhanMitch on (November 30, 2012, 6:45 GMT)

This is a great opportunity for Khawaja who i think is the best replacement for Punter though Doolan is not too far behind him as well. Khawaja should be bought in at 3 or 4, Clarke has seen first hand how Khawaja has been batting when he saw him top score in the NSW vs Qld game. I was at the game at AB Oval and Khawaja looked a class above the other batsman which included Warner, Watto and Clarke. I am sure Clarke will bring him in. And yes we do need one Queenslander in, surely as sheild champions and leaders we should have one.

Posted by hyclass on (November 30, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

Trying to get a sense of where the selectors are heading with Khawaja. When he was first chosen for Test cricket at his peak, his 1st class average was 11 runs higher. Yet he averaged 29 over 6 Tests and more importantly, his S/R was a very low 39, indicating he had real trouble turning the strike over. While anyone can have a bad game such as his last game 0 and 8 from a combined 41 balls, his form has generally been better in the last 4 months, though he has only 2 x 1st class centuries in 20 months. This Shield season is far better than last for NSW, yet his average is below 40. He was omitted from the Australia A side and publicly criticised by Inverarity for a perceived laziness in the field and running between the wickets as well as inconsistency. Yet the same chairman nominated him as captain for his XI. Khawaja can clearly play but has been out lbw and caught behind a significant number of times. It would help 1st class players if the selectors better defined their standards.

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 5:50 GMT)

Great to see Usman Khawaja as Captain and i am sure Khawaj will earn his place in Australia player 11 .. wish you best of luck .

Posted by venkatesh018 on (November 30, 2012, 5:28 GMT)

Why can't Callum Ferguson be given a fair run in the Test team?

Posted by CricketPervert on (November 30, 2012, 5:06 GMT)

Great to see Chadd Sayers getting a game, we need more swing bowlers in Australian cricket.

Posted by Meety on (November 30, 2012, 5:06 GMT)

It's a very interesting team for the selections as well as the non-selections. The bowlers (no disrespect intended) are not the ones you'd expect to be close to a Baggy Green, but the batsmen with the exception of Hughes are all players who COULD feature in the short to mid term. Not that it really matters - but I'd of wanted Neville to have a crack as a keeper batsmen at #7 - he's being shunted around all over the place @ NSW & doesn't keep atm!

Posted by nthuq on (November 30, 2012, 4:56 GMT)

Best of luck to these players. Hoping Khawaja can put up a big score for his quest to get back into our middle order.

Posted by DylanBrah on (November 30, 2012, 4:04 GMT)

Obviously looking for the next Ricky Ponting with these selections, but if you are going to pick young inexperienced guys then where is Kurtis Patterson? The Matthew Gale selection makes absolutely no sense.

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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