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Khawaja and Hauritz join Queensland

Brydon Coverdale

June 29, 2012

Comments: 32 | Text size: A | A

Both Usman Khawaja and Phillip Hughes were left out of Australia's Boxing Day Test squad, Cricket Australia Chairman's XI v Indians, Canberra, 3rd day, December 21, 2011
Usman Khawaja has followed Phillip Hughes in leaving New South Wales © Getty Images
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The exodus from New South Wales has continued with Usman Khawaja and Nathan Hauritz both confirming they have signed with Queensland. Their departures follow Thursday's news that Phillip Hughes was moving to South Australia, further depleting a New South Wales line-up that had already been hit by the retirements of Simon Katich this month and Phil Jaques at the end of last summer.

Khawaja and Hauritz both held Cricket Australia contracts last year but were cut last week as the list of national contracts was slashed from 25 to 17. The influx of former international players - Hughes, Doug Bollinger and Steven Smith also lost their national deals - has left the Blues juggling their list as some of their players have looked interstate for other offers.

Although Queensland won the Sheffield Shield last season, the presence of Khawaja will be a major boost to their batting. The Bulls can now boast two men on the fringes of Test selection, Khawaja and Peter Forrest, as well as two of the most promising young batsmen on the domestic scene in Australia, Joe Burns and Chris Lynn.

Khawaja, who is currently playing for Derbyshire, is expected to link up with the Bulls in September ahead of what could be an early start to their title defence. Khawaja averages 80.80 in four first-class matches at the Gabba, and although it can be a challenging venue for batsmen, he can take inspiration from the significant improvement in Forrest's results when he moved from Sydney to Brisbane last year.

"The decision to join Queensland has been the toughest decision of my career, particularly because I had to leave my home, my mates, my family, and my clubs of Cricket New South Wales and Randwick Petersham," Khawaja said. "I owe a great deal to where I am, and what I've achieved, to Cricket NSW and the 'Randy-Petes'.

"I'm extremely excited about joining Queensland and taking my cricket to the next level. I have a big role and it's a perfect environment for me to grow as a player and a person. Darren [Lehmann, the Queensland coach] and Trevor Hohns have meticulously crafted a team culture that is welcoming, yet very demanding."

Lehmann said he was impressed that Khawaja had been willing to move out of his comfort zone to embrace a new challenge.

"The easy decision for Usman would have been to stay where he was, but to his credit, he got in touch with us to see whether there was an opportunity with the Bulls to take his game to a new level, and for that stance, I congratulate him," Lehmann said. "It was a mature cricket decision, based around joining a successful group and I'm very excited about him coming into our culture, developing his skills and growing as a player."

Khawaja, 25, has played six Tests for Australia, the last of which was the loss to New Zealand in Hobart in December. Hauritz, 30, was a regular member of Australia's Test side until the 2010-11 Ashes, but the emergence of Nathan Lyon and a serious shoulder injury to Hauritz last year has left him adrift from international cricket, and he did not play a game for Australia over the past year despite holding a national contract.

Originally from Queensland, where he played 28 first-class matches before moving to New South Wales in 2006-07, Hauritz began the gradual journey home last summer when he played for the Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League. Although he will be battling with the promising young legspinner Cameron Boyce for a place in the side, Hauritz said the opportunity to move back to Brisbane was too good to pass up.

"I left Queensland looking for opportunity and gained that with New South Wales, and for that, I am eternally grateful," Hauritz said. "I was able to realise my dream of playing for Australia and thoroughly enjoyed playing cricket with NSW and with Randwick-Petersham. My wife Di and I enjoyed living in Sydney, but when the possibility emerged for us to come back home, it was too good to miss."

"The chance to work with Boof [Lehmann] and get back to playing with the guys I grew up was very attractive and the fact I enjoyed my time with the Brisbane Heat last season reinforced that it was the right way to go. I still believe I can play for Australia and I'm confident the way the Bulls play and the group they have will help me with that goal."

Lehmann said Queensland were happy to welcome Hauritz home. "He's a world-class offspinner, which fits in with how we are structuring our squad, and I am sure he is ready to demonstrate those skills for us and again reach the heights he has previously achieved," Lehmann said. "He showed me with the Heat that he is a calm, mature cricketer and we're confident he will work beautifully with the Bulls group."

Queensland's two big signings came as all six states continued to lock in players for next summer, with one week left in the contracting window. Western Australia were keen on recruiting the Tasmania wicketkeeper Tim Paine to replace Luke Ronchi, but Paine has declared he will be staying in Hobart next season.

The Warriors were also interested in Tom Triffitt, the young Tasmania backup gloveman, while his state team-mates James Faulkner has also received interest from interstate. However, Tasmania confirmed on Friday that Faulkner had signed a new three-year deal to remain with the Tigers.

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

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Posted by zenboomerang on (July 2, 2012, 12:48 GMT)

@gpm86... Agree - Khawaja & Hughes have both been coached under the NSW system where both left handers have turned from good players into average players - Hughes has stated that his only coach is his personal coack yet both he & Ussie have somehow turned into front-on batsmen under their tutelage which has greatly comprimised their their whole game & left their defensive game open to easy exploitation... Seems hyclass & meety have great credentials that are unproven if not bs... meety jokes about his FC average... Hard to tell them apart - lol...

Posted by MenFromMarts on (July 2, 2012, 8:18 GMT)

Now Kurtis Patterson will shine in the NSW colours. Hope he doesn't get poached as he is an amazing bat. Still think NSW now need an old head in the batting line up. Could RT Ponting be a chance ? Now that would be a NSW coup.

Posted by gpm86 on (July 2, 2012, 5:01 GMT)

@hyclass- hanging around a bowling coach, doesnt make you a coach of any sort. no need to blow ur own whistle mate.

All young players have flaws in their game that need to be worked on. but horizon is right in saying that a number of professionals have identified him as a talent, regardless of a flaw which they are working to fix.

Posted by hyclass on (July 1, 2012, 11:05 GMT)

@CricHorizon..I'm yet to see any specific refuting data from you.At the time of my observations,Khawaja had a 1st Class ave of 53.That has subsequently fallen to 42.His Test average is 29 & his S/R very low.He hasnt passed 36 in any of his last 12 innings.Those flaws I identified have since been commented on by players,journalists & coaches in recent articles on this site.They describe him walking himself front on.If you were correct in any of your observations,then his record would be rising,not falling as it has done for some considerable time.This article makes it clear that he knocked on QLD's door-not the other way around as was the case with the other named players.I observed there was enough in his early record to encourage perserverence.His current game continues to fail at 1st Class level.Lehmann is one of the greats & his best hope.I once bowled to Lehmann during a coaching session at Bat & Ball in Melbourne.Saker,the Eng bowling coach used to play cards at my house.

Posted by RandyOZ on (July 1, 2012, 4:40 GMT)

Khawaja, like most players, is a confidence player, and his appalling treatment by CA hasn't helped. He does seem a bit soft though and if he were to knuckle down and put the hours in the nets I am certain he will reach his potential.

Posted by ozwriter on (July 1, 2012, 1:28 GMT)

thanks LewisEdwards, this is a great move for Khawaja and I think he will do well under the tutelage of Lehman. Imagine the batting combination with Lynn, Forrest and Khawaja. Khawaja should be in australian colours soon! and some of the arm chair critics on technique, you would think they were retired batting coaches or something. when renowned international observers and commentator like ponting, chris gayle, and graeme smith speak highly of khawaja's talent, technique and maturity; i'm not sure that the nonsensical rants of a few should cloud the discussion.

Posted by hyclass on (June 30, 2012, 12:31 GMT)

Khawaja may struggle to command a place in the QLD side.It's interesting that the article describes him as approaching QLD rather than the opposite, as seen with respect to the other batsmen and bowlers named.Khawaja's form slump has little to do with the Australian side,as appalling as CA have been, highlighted by Argus.I oppose the idea that technique is more relevant than stamina,an excellent game plan,courage & the will to mentally impose oneself on the ball & bowler.Certainty is the goal & uncertainty the enemy.On his debut,I identified a flaw in Khawaja's trigger movements that prevents consistency.At times he shuffles up to twice across his stumps & at others reaches.If anyone can correct it,Lehmann can.Khawja's County stint has been terrible & form slump protracted,his average falling from 53 to 42.He has shown enough IMO to suggest perserverance.' Class' is the adjective people most often use in modern times to fill the void where success & performance should exist but doesnt.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (June 30, 2012, 0:54 GMT)

@CricHorizon, well said mate, many people forget that he was shield batsman of the year for 2010

Posted by ozwriter on (June 29, 2012, 15:57 GMT)

good move for Khawaja, and good luck for Queensland. I agree with Mat_McIntosh, Khawaja has been one of the best players on the domestic years with a recent form probably not unrelated to being in and out of the national team. Remember he was the 2010 shield cricket batsman of the year. he is a class act and should make his way into the Australian ODI and Test teams.

Posted by Mary_786 on (June 29, 2012, 10:30 GMT)

@Ken McCarron, Khawaja was NSW's best batsman in 2010 and 2011, last year he only played 4 games due to his Aus games. Steve Smith is not even close to Khawaja, he is at best a good 20 20 player. Wishing Khawaja all the best for this move and I am predicting he will back in the ashes side with some strong performances for QLD.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
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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