Australia news July 5, 2012

Khawaja excited at working with Lehmann

ESPNcricinfo staff

Usman Khawaja has explained his decision to move to Queensland, declaring that his enjoyment of the game had ebbed away during his last summer with New South Wales. Khawaja also said that he was excited by the prospect of working with the Queensland coach Darren Lehmann, who steered the Bulls to the Sheffield Shield title in his first season in charge.

Queensland have added three former Australia representatives to their squad for 2012-13: Khawaja, the offspinner Nathan Hauritz and the troubled batsman Luke Pomersbach. Although he has lost his Cricket Australia contract and has slipped behind others in the Test batting queue, Khawaja is the Bulls import with the most immediate prospects of an international recall.

But his aims at the start of the summer will be much simpler than regaining his baggy green. After the Blues finished second-last in the Sheffield Shield with only one win last season, and Khawaja failed to score a first-class half-century after losing his Test position in December, more than anything he wants to enjoy playing the game again.

"It was a tough year for everyone at New South Wales," Khawaja told the Daily Telegraph. "It got to a point where I wasn't enjoying my cricket as much. I need to be somewhere that will allow me to enjoy my cricket a little bit more. That was the catalyst for my move. Cricket New South Wales over the years has been an excellent organisation so it was a pretty tough decision."

Khawaja said working with Lehmann was particularly enticing, and he was hopeful that as a prolific former domestic and international batsman Lehmann would be the perfect coach to help him find his way again.

"I felt last year at New South Wales that by the end of the season I was somewhere I didn't want to be in terms of my cricket progress," Khawaja said. "To be under Darren Lehmann is a real plus. Boof [Lehmann] can't help me when I'm on the field. I just have to go out there and score runs. But off the field he's had so much experience in different situations.

"I've spoken to him a few times and I like the way he thinks about cricket, I like the way he goes about being a coach. He can be hard when he wants to and quite relaxed when he wants to. He's quite a confident bloke and just watching him bat over the years, I think he's got a lot to offer in terms of how to deal with different situations on and off the field. I'll be picking his brain and learning from him."

Khawaja said there were aspects of his game that needed work, but he was confident that he could regain his best form with the Bulls. He has spent the past month playing Twenty20 cricket with Derbyshire and when the county starts playing first-class cricket again later this month it will give Khawaja valuable opportunities to impress the national selectors in English conditions ahead of the 2013 Ashes.

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