Australia news September 5, 2014

Khawaja defends his work ethic

ESPNcricinfo staff

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."

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  • Mashuq on September 12, 2014, 10:19 GMT

    Saw him in South Africa a few years back. Seems to have gone back since. My tuppence-worth: Within a year or so with the departure of Buck and Watto, we might see Hughes and Khawaja as openers with Davey at #3. Unlike the latter, the other two look suspect against spin,so opening might suit them better. However, while one but hope Hughes takes his chance, Ussie needs to bang the door down with a season-full of runs. If he does, he should leap-frog other tried and touted bats like Doolan, Maddinson and Burns, to mention merely the obvious ones.

  • Rajaram on September 8, 2014, 0:29 GMT

    @Chris_P, you cannot sweep under the carpet Phil Hughes' fallibility towards nicking. Hughes holds the world record for "caught Guptill nowled Martin" 4 times. FOUR TIMES! Phil Hughes is undependable in Test Cricket.

  • Jeremy on September 7, 2014, 1:57 GMT

    He'll get his chance. I'd rather see Mark Cosgrove replace Rogers when he retires.

  • Peter on September 6, 2014, 20:48 GMT

    @popcorn Pushed about in Tests maybe but in FC his position is the same yet he still hasn't shown the results that demands selection. Select him ahead of Hughes, despite the fact Hughes piles on runs in our domestic competition at a rate far in excess of Usman? We don't select on proven performances? Since when have we adopted that line of thinking again, we delayed Chris Roger's selection far too long by selecting players who didn't deserve it, we should go back to that way?

  • Rajaram on September 6, 2014, 12:19 GMT

    I would slot him as an opener in Test Cricket after Chris Rogers retires.He and David Warner are a perfect foil for each other. Certainly not airy-fairy Phil Hughes.Watson at 3. Watching Usman Khawaja demonstrste perfect technique is a pleasure. He has been pushed around, shuffled around to No.6, and THIS has been the cause for an unfair assessment.

  • AMAR on September 6, 2014, 7:06 GMT

    ben carter. i agree with you.if khawaja want permanet spot in team he make runs in upcoming domestic season like hughes.i also want to see khawaja in team.i know khawaja has the ability to set their place in this aussie team because i want to see hughes,khawaja,doolan and smith in test middle order. come on uzie.

  • Brenton on September 6, 2014, 7:05 GMT

    Khawaja is proof that having a perfect technique does not guarantee success. Hughes is also proof that not having the perfect technique doesn't mean you will fail.........

  • Dummy4 on September 6, 2014, 5:32 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx. Oopsy buddy. I actually meant to say that Henriques who batted so well in India looked a far better prospect than Khawaja who looked all at sea in England. Don't know what happened to Henriques after that tour. What I meant to say was that the talent pool in Australia is overflowing - especially with respect to batting reserves- you have so many talented guys- Finch, Warner, the Marsh brothers, Smith, etc, etc, where does Khawaja even come in the discussion, given his struggles in England. Remember, an Indian or a Sri Lankan batsman struggling in England is ok, for they are not used to that kind of pace, bounce or movement. But an Australian struggling to that extent is something that cannot be pardoned. Thats what I meant.

  • Peter on September 5, 2014, 21:15 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx You beat me to it, I was wondering who our friend was watching when he said that!! Agree with the views that he needs to pump out a massive season & bash the door down demanding selection. Follow what Hughes is doing & what Smith did to resurrect his FC career. 40 odd averages doesn't really cut it any more, he has talent, but is not consistent enough.

  • Steve on September 5, 2014, 14:09 GMT

    Khawaja in the mold of Gower and Gayle? If he produced results like the two I mentioned, his demeanor wouldn't have mattered. He didn't do justice to his talent thus far. Under 28, he might yet get chances to show what he is made off.

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