Khawaja defends his work ethic
Usman Khawaja has said the communication from Australia's management around the homework saga in India last year was not strong enough, and the handling of the situation was "very disappointing". Speaking on the latest edition of Alison's Tea Break for ESPNcricinfo, Khawaja also conceded that his relaxed nature could rub people the wrong way, but that his mind was often racing at "a million miles an hour".
Throughout his short nine-Test career, Khawaja has struggled to shake off the perception that he does not work hard enough, or that he is not intense enough at the crease. That was only exacerbated in India when he was one of the four Australia players suspended for failing to complete a task set by the coach Mickey Arthur, who said he hoped it would be the catalyst for Khawaja to realise "we're pretty serious in the Australian cricket team".
"It wasn't fun. It was quite a horrible time to be honest," Khawaja said. "It was disappointing because I knew I was pretty much going to be playing in that Test match, I hadn't officially been told, but I was in. It was just disappointing how it worked out. I don't think the communication was strong enough.
"Firstly I wasn't sure ... I thought it was due before the next Test match. If someone said to me, look, you've got to hand this in by Sunday, or else you're not playing the next Test match, then I promise you, not one person would not hand it in. They'd all hand it in. So there was a bit of communication error. I'm not saying I'm not totally at fault - I should probably listen harder. But it was very disappointing how it was all handled."
Khawaja's omission from the team for the Mohali Test allowed Steven Smith to establish himself with an innings of 92; Smith has scored four centuries and has not missed a Test since then. Khawaja, on the other hand, played three Tests on last year's Ashes tour under new coach Darren Lehmann but was unable to hold his spot. He said although there were times earlier in his career when his work ethic let him down, that was no longer the case.
"I work as hard as everyone else on and off the field," Khawaja said. "I put everything into cricket. I think at time when I was younger there were times when my standards in some places weren't up to scratch and I learnt that quick. Now I make sure that I tick all the boxes, do what I need to do to be in the best state that I can be to win cricket games for my team.
"I think sometimes my relaxed nature and the way I go about things just rubs people the wrong way. I can't help it. When I'm batting and I'm doing stuff, things in my head is going a million miles an hour. When I'm doing stuff it's all going quickly.
"But my exterior is a lot different to what's happening in my head, so I think sometimes people take me in the wrong way if they don't know me well enough. It's something I fought a lot when I was younger but I think when people get to know me they see the real me."