Australia news

Khawaja shuffle adds intrigue to Test squad

Daniel Brettig

December 5, 2012

Comments: 40 | Text size: A | A

Usman Khawaja faces up while Phillip Hughes watches from slip, Queensland v South Australia, Sheffield Shield, Brisbane, day one, October 1, 2012
Usman Khawaja and Phillip Hughes are both in contention to replace Ricky Ponting © Getty Images
Related Links

Usman Khawaja will be an Australian Test aspirant one day and a Twenty20 billboard the next after a hurried compromise between Cricket Australia and the Sydney Thunder following Michael Clarke's forced withdrawal from the opening round of the BBL.

Named as captain of the CA Chairman's XI to face the Sri Lankans in Canberra from Thursday, Khawaja will be withdrawn from the match on the Saturday morning and fly up to Sydney in time to take part in the Thunder's opening match against the Sydney Sixers at the SCG.

After Australia's team physio Alex Kountouris strongly recommended that Clarke be ruled out of the opening round of the BBL - his one scheduled appearance for the Thunder before the start of the Test series against Sri Lanka - the BBL side immediately requested that Khawaja be withdrawn from the tour match at Manuka.

A hasty round of negotiations followed between CA, the Thunder and Cricket NSW, resulting in a compromise whereby Khawaja will play for two days with the Chairman's XI before also playing for the Thunder as their biggest local name in the absence of Clarke.

Discussion of how Khawaja's batting services would be spread across the weekend took place against the backdrop of selection talk about the make-up of the Australian Test side for the first match of the series against Sri Lanka in Hobart. The squad is due to be named on Thursday.

Khawaja is part of a four-way battle to replace Ricky Ponting in Australia's batting order, also including Phillip Hughes, Alex Doolan and Rob Quiney. Doolan is also taking part in the Chairman's XI match, while Quiney and Hughes will be playing this weekend for the Melbourne Stars and the Adelaide Strikers, respectively.

With 570 runs at 81.42 this summer including an unbeaten 161 for Australia A against the South Africans in Sydney, Doolan is second only to Clarke among Australia first-class run scorers this summer. Hughes is third with 524 runs at 47.63, while Khawaja's 438 runs at 39.81 places him fifth. Doolan said Hughes and Quiney were both ahead of him in his own mind.

"If I was picking the team I'd probably put Phil Hughes in there just simply through weight of runs," Doolan told AAP in Canberra. "It seems every time he steps onto the crease he's hitting runs and hitting them at good pace and in a consistent way.

"I'm not saying that I'd be happy to have someone picked ahead of me but I think Bobby [Quiney] deserves it as much as anyone. I really hope he gets another crack at it. He deserved his call-up to the national team and obviously results didn't go his way but that just shows what the game is.

"It's a fickle game and sometimes results don't go your way but I've no doubt he's Test quality and I'm sure he'd show it if he got another go."

Injuries to Josh Hazlewood and John Hastings have reduced the selectors' bowling options for the Hobart Test, leaving Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus to slot back into the squad alongside Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Lyon.

Possible Test squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phillip Hughes, Shane Watson, Michael Hussey, Matthew Wade, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Lyon.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

RSS Feeds: Daniel Brettig

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by pat_one_back on (December 8, 2012, 3:49 GMT)

What at first seemed like logical choices now questionable after being so poorly explained. Quiney was WATSON's short term replacement, Ricky's spot was not up for grabs at the time and so it seemed appropriate to pass over those next in line (Phil & Ussie) since Aust never bring long term prospects in as short term back fills, can stunt development. Now Ricky's spot has opened, it was unnecessary to share that Hughes (and Khawaja) were shielded, smart to provide a long runway for a long term replacement, not so smart telling everyone!!!! Undoubtedly Hughes or Khawaja would have placed themselves under enormous pressure against SA, how many times can you fail whilst establishing yourself...

Posted by eng_mdkhan on (December 7, 2012, 14:56 GMT)

Since the Aussies have a rotation policy so I think both can be given a fair chance albeit that has to be decided by the people who know their job. I have heard good about Khawaja and seen him on TV and from what I have seen he seems to be a good bet for the long run on the other hand Hughes has this jittery demeanor and I have seen him do really bad. But if Hughes has turned the corner then its a different story. I think the Aussie cricket board is going the BCCI way.....a non merit based selection system.

Posted by Busie1979 on (December 7, 2012, 10:17 GMT)

Hughes has a better overall record and better form than Khawaja in Test and FC cricket. Hughes should be picked. Selectors were right not to pick him for South Africa - he needs to find his feet and build confidence. He was thrown to the wolves last time - picked when out of form with no experienced players with him in the top 3. He needs to be managed carefully. Both are potentially solid Test cricketers but I don't expect either to be world beaters and both are fielding liabilities who don't bowl. For the record - Khawaja didn't choose to play the 20/20 - he was told to. My top 6: (1) Cowan (like Quiney a stop-gap) (2) Warner (3) Hussey (4) Clarke (5) Hughes (6) Watson.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2012, 2:36 GMT)

Can't quite fathom how they're doing this. What's with the doublespeak? If Hughes isn't good enough, he isn't good enough. Just betrays an agenda to get him in no matter what. As far as I know, Khawaja and all other contenders for the no.3 spot are being royally jerked around, nay, made to feel as if they don't really exist. So you mollycoddle this one bloke, cotton-wool him against greater opposition by using a human shield (poor Rob Quiney), while telling the others they can continue to display excellent form without warranting a look-in because we've earmarked a consistently misfiring opener for the no.3 slot who we think isn't up to it anyway but for some birthright. Nicely played, NSP.

Posted by swat1999 on (December 6, 2012, 15:17 GMT)

Usman Khawaja should give chance for Pnting place at Hobert. He is an excellent stroke player

Posted by .Raina on (December 6, 2012, 5:40 GMT)

Hughes' selection looks surprising, especially for the position he has been picked up, but practically he has always been ahead of others in terms of numbers (& his supporters in CA). His greatest attraction is the runs he puts on, and his consistency. Khawaja is also a great talent and somehow scores runs in difficult conditions, and I feel the selectors are waiting for him to be a bit more consistent. He always gets starts but his conversion rates of 50s to 100s hasn't been very good. And Hughes more often than not gets to 3-figures after getting a start. Hughes should play as an opener, and not as a replacement for No.3, and this would lead to a change in the batting order that is anyway not settled yet.....Mr. Cricket should come up, if Pup doesn't have the confidence to do so himself.....

Posted by shaz101 on (December 6, 2012, 0:34 GMT)

Hughes was a failure attempt after attempt and now you will give this prick another chance... Khawaja is no certain to score and may not be a international player but giving him another try will be best option.. Hughes had too many failures at international level.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 23:13 GMT)

Khawaja or Hughes in for Ponting, and batting at 3. Clarke 4, Hussey 5, Watson 6.

I would have said Khawaja is first choice for the spot, but have changed my mind, as it appears he would rather play pointless 20/20 cricket...

Posted by Big_Chikka on (December 5, 2012, 23:01 GMT)

ageism shouldn't be part of any selection process, if you tick the boxes you should get the opportunities unless of course there's a box that says is he under 27 or something? or he took too long making it in fist class cricket :).

Posted by ak_dragon on (December 5, 2012, 22:49 GMT)

Where is SHAUN MARSH....he has good batting Average against Sri Lanka..

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 22:45 GMT)

This is the worst example and unjustice to a talanted player from a nation , which always has good management and been champions for a decade. That is absolutely wrong , to make a most talanted a scape goat for a mere 20/20,,,, How can he prove when he is demoralised by taking him out of captainship one day before the CHAIRMAN'S 11 VS SRI LANKA,,, Decisions like these are the reasons Australia is struglling in Test Matches.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (December 5, 2012, 22:41 GMT)

@Pras_Punter i wouldn't get too frustrated if Khawaja does not make the cut this time, he is next off the rank and we will need quality batsman like him around if there is another injury and to keep the top order honest. Best young batsman in the country in my view and a great representative for Asian migrants in Australia

Posted by KhanMitch on (December 5, 2012, 22:38 GMT)

@land47 no doubt Khawaja was told that Hughes has been selected otherwise he wouldn't agree to this. For me Khawaja is the best number 3 and he can't be too far from a call up. Khawaja is the best man best suited for the number 3 position, this is where he bats for his state and he has the best technique to face both spin and fast bowling. Hughes is a natural opener and to bring him in at 3 will show signs of favoritism which I hope does not happen. Our goal is to win the ashes and Khawaja is a must for that as he is the best player of swing bowling in the country and his fieliding and running between the wickets looks sharp.

Posted by Mary_786 on (December 5, 2012, 22:29 GMT)

@mrtorr agree with you mate, Khawaja is our best option for number 3 and i don't think he is too far from a call up. @Barnesy444 Khawaja was asked to go play the Big Bash, its not his call mate. He is our best young test prospect, so get him ahead in your queue.

Posted by L.P.Grace on (December 5, 2012, 22:23 GMT)

No big deal it's a three day game, and he's only missing one day. IIf these three-day tour matches were so important to team selection, then why wasn't Dooland picked over Quiney?

Posted by Dashgar on (December 5, 2012, 22:18 GMT)

@Blake, Quiney may not be technically perfect but he's a lot better than Hughes. Quincy's selection shows that we are finally reward the guys who have gone back to shield crick and plundered runs for multiple years. Not just had a good season and ridden on the back of a reputation. Hughes was woeful last year. In tests and in Shield. He should remain out of the team till he can prove this run isn't just a purple patch.

Posted by Buggsy on (December 5, 2012, 20:05 GMT)

How about we have both Hughes AND Khawaja? Warner's done.

Posted by Beertjie on (December 5, 2012, 16:50 GMT)

@Nightwing32, I'd rather play Warner at #6 and have Hughes open with Cowan with Clarke and Hussey moving up one. Having said that, now is the time to drop Watto further down if they want him to bowl with some effect, but Clarke won't bat at 3. Go figure. But questions about Hughes's technique will best be answered in swinging conditions and good quickies. Like @mrtorr on (December 05 2012, 14:21 PM GMT) I think Khawaja would be our most solid number 3 and I fear that "the way the situation was handled might dent Khawaja confidence as it basically once again underlines that the selectors have little faith in him." He deserves a fair go ahead of perennial golden boy Hughes.

Posted by DylanBrah on (December 5, 2012, 14:41 GMT)

If Hughes is selected I hope he does not fail again because he is a tremendous talent, top bloke and a bloody hard worker. He's a guy with a lot of pressure on him, and Australia is desperate for him to succeed.

Posted by mrtorr on (December 5, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

Another article to confirm what I said before. I think Khawaja would be our most solid number 3. Imo Hughes is an opener but I think what the selectors are doing is trialing Hughes and if Cowan/Warner remain inconsistent can have him slot up and bring in Khawaja in later. The problem with this is the way the situation was handled might dent Khawaja confidence as it basically once again underlines that the selectors have little faith in him. Last time they moved him up and down the order -_-. Hopefully he proves me wrong and continues to churn out runs.

Posted by Nightwing32 on (December 5, 2012, 14:19 GMT)

Hughes to be slotted in No.6, please, Worked for Hussey, he opened and he was a top order player in the FC career

Posted by jonesy2 on (December 5, 2012, 14:17 GMT)

Blake Houston -- i agree, i was staggered when quiney was picked for the tests. to me he wasnt even close to contention. ODI team absolutely but not tests that was just madness especially with usman and hughes in such great form. word is that hughes is all but in the test squad to replace ricky

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 14:12 GMT)

Huges and Khawaja are the future prospects for Aussies. Aussies should include them in all test matches so that they could build themselves to be solid batsman for them. Both are highly talented young players if they keep playing for 2 year continuously then they could become more reliable players for Aussies. Selector's please don't waste time in selecting Quiney or players more than 26 years old. Give these two a chance to play for Australia for next 2 years. There is a great chance of Aussies retaining and maintaining No.1 Spot. Still they need to find a good spin bowler and consistent fast bowler. Siddle has been given lot of opportunities but he is not consistent enough. Waiting to see a consistent and No.1 pace Bowler from Australia. I guess it has ended with Mcgrath and Lee era.

Posted by SmashingBaby on (December 5, 2012, 13:41 GMT)

I couldn't agree more strongly with everyone who has commented that Tests should be the priority, and prospective test players shouldn't be playing T20. Test matches are cricket, T20 is for people who didn't really like cricket to begin with and have short attention spans. Unfortunately those governing the game of cricket are more interested in money than the game itself, as if the money helps with the development of cricket at the grass roots! @Barnesy4444 - that is such a good point about Hughes, I wasn't a fan before but his focus on first class cricket has brought good results so maybe the time is right to bring him back. I wonder if Quiney should get more of a shot though, he didn't do much yet but he's performed well at first class level.

Posted by landl47 on (December 5, 2012, 13:23 GMT)

What puzzles me is why Khawaja agreed to this. He must have been told either that he was definitely in the test squad or definitely out of it, no matter what he did in the chairman's match. Since it's hard to imagine that he would be named captain of the chairman's XI if he had no chance of playing in the tests, I assume he was told he's definitely in. That being so, you'd have thought he'd have wanted to play first-class cricket instead of a few overs of hit-and-giggle. This T20 rubbish is starting to diminish cricket. I can understand it in India, but it's sad to see Aus going the same way. No doubt England will soon be climbing on the train to nowhere as well.

Posted by PrasPunter on (December 5, 2012, 13:11 GMT)

probably the reason why we are where we are !! Go around and play all the useless hit and giggle stuff and break down on the eve of a crucial test . I dont see us progressing beyond where are . No chance of a test match win against india and england in the upcoming tours , leave alone winning the series !! Throw Argus report to the dust-bin !!

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 12:58 GMT)

Im sick of seeing Quiney's name mentioned, he has technical flaws and is impatient, he is not geared for test cricket, he is more of a one day player. I want Hughes or Khawaja to be picked as both will be a part of australias long term future and both have the temperament for long innings

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (December 5, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

Soft. If I was pushing for test selection I wouldn't throw away the opportunity to make a century against a visiting test team in favour of a domestic 20 over game. Phil Hughes quit the big bash last year to go away and focus entirely on improving his test game. THAT'S the sort of player we want in Australia's test team. Make Hughes the captain of the Chairman's XI game. Khawaja goes to the back of the queue in my book. Weak as p..s.

Posted by Mervo on (December 5, 2012, 11:42 GMT)

Why are any of the Test players in the Big Bash or what ever it is called? They have a test coming up. Don't they see all the injuries that have come from this T20 stuff - Watson, Hazlewood, and on and on. And for what? Get a few club cricketers involved in the BB instead.

Posted by bobagorof on (December 5, 2012, 10:46 GMT)

I guess we rule out Khawaja from Test reckoning, then. You can't seriously expect someone to adequately prepare for a Test match by pulling out of a First Class match halfway through to play a Twenty 20. His mindset will be all over the place.

Then again, Quiney was picked on Twenty 20 success, Lyon was discovered in Twenty 20s and Watson forced his way back in through the IPL. So maybe it's really a sign that Khawaja is at the front of the queue...

Posted by Dashgar on (December 5, 2012, 9:55 GMT)

Thunder can't do that. Khawaja is playing for a chairman's XI, that is more important than domestic cricket. Every state loses players for this game, it's part of the job of domestic sides to recover from this.

Posted by kensohatter on (December 5, 2012, 8:28 GMT)

This is absolutely ridiculous! Here you have a player on the verge of test match selection about to play a game that could cement his spot in the national team and the priority is a 20/20 hit and giggle match!?! BBL, IPL and all 20/20 forms are DESTROYING cricket not enhancing and I am really not sure how more people dont see it. In 15yrs time test cricket wont exist and we will be left... I really believe the Michael Clarkes, AB Devillers and Alistair Cooks of this world are the very last of the test generation with the future to be made up of six hitting specialists. Sad if that happens ill go jump on the baseball bandwagon... at least their game was always meant to be 3hrs.

Posted by peeeeet on (December 5, 2012, 8:06 GMT)

Still unsure as to whether I'd go with Hughes or Khawaja as I like them both (side note - Hughes should be playing ODIs for Australia in my opinion). As for bowling, I'd like to see someone like Putland or Cutting get chosen ahead of Johnson. I'd have Sids, Hilfy, Starc and one of those two in there.

Posted by Big-Dog on (December 5, 2012, 7:07 GMT)

Johnson was outbowled by Jackson Bird in the Shield Game in Hobart prior to the Perth Test. Johnson's inclusion in this side will be pointless when there are better performed bowlers to choose from. Bird, Butterworth, Feldman & Cutting have all done better this season.

Posted by chippymunk on (December 5, 2012, 7:05 GMT)

Khawaja has to be named in this squad. He has not scored as many runs, but he has been the best bat in many of the matches he has played in, and they have been on pitches favouring bowlers. Scored his century when the other team's total was less that a hundred. Then was on course for another century until runout unfairly. he is the class player we need. give him a go, not hughes who is a flat track bully.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 5, 2012, 6:58 GMT)

I sincerely hope that they aren't giving Mr Poor Technique, aka Phil Hughes, another go. Have I blinked and missed the news that he has fixed his technique? GEORGE BAILEY is the one who deserves this. Just insane.

Posted by Meety on (December 5, 2012, 6:51 GMT)

This is completely ridiculous! Its bad enuff that endless T20s prior to the Test series blunted Oz's performance by hampered preparation, we have the early start to T20s that means should an injury or replacement be required after the 1st Test, by the time the 2nd Test rolls around it will be at least 3 weeks since anybody has played an FC game. Now with one last prep match, we have to mock the whole charade of Test primacy, by pulling the captain out of a tour match to meet some publicity requirement for a Franchise. Stupid. Whilst I expect Oz to beat Sri Lanka in the Test series, IF Oz lose a match, how much will be from haphazard practise. The BBL should be condensed to just prior or after Xmas, (I'd prefer it to be a January beast), & let the Shield roll right up until just before Xmas. Play the Ryobi in February to free up some more space in the itinery. BTW - I even more so, would like to see the Futures League beefed up over the duration of the BBL!

Posted by wix99 on (December 5, 2012, 6:42 GMT)

What if Sri Lanka bat for most of the first two days of the practice match and Khawaja doesn't get a chance to bat? It's absolutely ridiculous that first class cricket has become subordinate to a short game designed entirely for television.

Posted by jonesy2 on (December 5, 2012, 6:27 GMT)

it should be this simple: usman comes straight in and bats at 3 watson down at 4 , siddle comes straight in for hastings and its as you were.

Posted by simba110 on (December 5, 2012, 6:25 GMT)

How stupid! If Khawaja wants to play tests he should be playing in the Chairman's XI match instead of some useless, pointless t20 game.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
Country Fixtures Country Results
4th Youth ODI: S Lanka U19 v Aust U19 at Colombo (Colts) - Oct 1
S Lanka U19 278/7 Aust U19 90/4 (21.4/50 ov)
1st Semi-Final: KKR v Hurricanes at Hyderabad (Deccan)
Oct 2, 2014 (16:00 local | 10:30 GMT | 06:30 EDT | 05:30 CDT | 03:30 PDT)
5th Youth ODI: S Lanka U19 v Aust U19 at Colombo (NCC)
Oct 3, 2014 (10:00 local | 04:30 GMT | 00:30 EDT | 23:30 CDT | 21:30 PDT)
NSW v South Aust at Brisbane
Oct 4, 2014 (09:30 local | 23:30 GMT | 19:30 EDT | 18:30 CDT | 16:30 PDT)
Queensland v Victoria at Brisbane
Oct 4, 2014 (09:30 local | 23:30 GMT | 19:30 EDT | 18:30 CDT | 16:30 PDT)
6th Youth ODI: S Lanka U19 v Aust U19 at Colombo (SSC)
Oct 4, 2014 (10:00 local | 04:30 GMT | 00:30 EDT | 23:30 CDT | 21:30 PDT)
Complete fixtures » | Download Fixtures »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days