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Khawaja defends his work ethic

ESPNcricinfo staff

September 5, 2014

Comments: 31 | Text size: A | A

Usman Khawaja made his second Test half-century, England v Australia, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 4th day, July 21, 2013
Usman Khawaja: "I think sometimes my relaxed nature and the way I go about things just rubs people the wrong way" © Getty Images

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."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Beertjie 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.

Posted by popcorn 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.

Posted by Jeremy303 on (September 7, 2014, 1:57 GMT)

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

Posted by Chris_P 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?

Posted by popcorn 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.

Posted by AMAR3366 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.

Posted by Barnesy4444 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.........

Posted by   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.

Posted by Chris_P 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.

Posted by CricketChat 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.

Posted by   on (September 5, 2014, 12:55 GMT)

Ussie is a class player, but the depth in Australian team is too big. You have to get in the moment you get an opportunity. Even Phil Hughes is still on and off the team. Anyway Ussie all the best.

Posted by wapuser on (September 5, 2014, 12:46 GMT)

Go Valleys, Go the Diehards!!!!

Posted by   on (September 5, 2014, 10:56 GMT)

khwaja s austalia playing chances are very slim so as a pakistani born aussie and current depleted cupboard of pakistani test batsman he can play international cricket for quite long time and regularly if he want to consider . He just have to play one good ist class season on slow and low pakistani pitches . Pakistan also needs badly one or 2 left handed middle order batsman.

Posted by   on (September 5, 2014, 9:39 GMT)

Agree with all you guys. He's a long way off the boil right now. He needs giant scores in domestic cricket. Look at Phil Hughes, he scores like a rapper and still is on the fringes. Ussie was on the inner, and once you're in that you do whatever you can to stay there, cause it's bloody hard to get back there. Sorry mate but you blew your chance.

Posted by   on (September 5, 2014, 8:54 GMT)

I've been living in the UK and follow the county cricket here when I can and he has hardly set the county cricket alight as I know a few Lancashire fans who weren't happy having him at number 3 for them. Rogers on the other hand for Middlesex was smashing hundreds and a couple of doubles too so that shows the level gap between the top players to the fringe players, although Hughes is making a good case for himself. Was only about 10-15 years ago that out talent pool in batting was that strong that you had to be averaging around 60 to get anywhere near the test team.

Posted by KeithMillersHair on (September 5, 2014, 7:33 GMT)

I'm a massive fan of Usie, but the fact is he didn't do enough to guarantee his place in a struggling side, and hasn't done enough to force his way back into a successful one. I still think it would be wonderful if he could make it happen - he's a lovely player to watch when if form - but he needs to do a lot from here if he is to have another crack.

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (September 5, 2014, 7:23 GMT)

@ xtrafalgarx the names and places have changed to protect the innocent, what is IMPORTANT is getting in the "4 nil whitewash"

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (September 5, 2014, 6:51 GMT)

@Prabhakar Muthukrishnan: Of course Henriques looked better than Khawaja in India, because Khawaja DIDN'T PLAY IN INDIA!!! What series were you watching?

Posted by Shaggy076 on (September 5, 2014, 6:38 GMT)

In life you get what you get out it what you put in and that is why Khawaja is where he is, the only bloke he can blame is himself. Hasn't taken his chances and if your outside the team you should put every effort on the training track to get another opportunity.

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (September 5, 2014, 6:31 GMT)

It seems like a thousand years ago I was calling for Khawaja's inclusion.

Posted by   on (September 5, 2014, 6:28 GMT)

Khawaja didn't look a long term prospect for Australia when the team was whitewashed 4-0 in India. He struggled big time. Even Moses Henriques fared better than him with the bat. Australia should be definitely having better choices than him.

Posted by bigopinions3000listentome on (September 5, 2014, 5:53 GMT)

Robert Roemer, You'll have to fill the rest of us in on how you are so informed on the situation! Sounds like you know too much to just be the casual cricket article commenter..

..or you like a good story that suits whatever bias you may have.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (September 5, 2014, 5:48 GMT)

Khawaja doesn't need a good season in Shield Cricket. He needs a great season. He needs to average 50, 60 with 3 or 4 hundreds in order to band the door down. Half centuries won't cut it anymore. The same applies to everyone else, i want to see more people have top class season's rather than asking for selection after averaging 40 with 1 hundred in the season.

Posted by FRashid on (September 5, 2014, 5:32 GMT)

I agree with all the comments prior. However I think he has some technical flaws and lacks some awareness. He cant play spin. I have observed that every time he has gotten out recently, has been mainly to spin. He does not rotate strike enough. He uses a big shot to bring relief when he cant rotate strike. He has good technique against pace bowling and is quite flamboyant. Hopefully he can work his way back into the team.

Posted by AngryAngy on (September 5, 2014, 5:09 GMT)

He's a good cricketer, but not so good that his omission is a travesty. He had some good summers way back, but really went off the boil and has since struggled to the clutches of hundreds that see players rocket into the squad. He hasn't made much of his opportunities either. He's certainly no more of a captaincy threat than Bailey or Smith, but really there is no threat to Clarke, there are only about half a dozen batsmen in the world as good as he is, and he is seemingly peerless as a tactician.

Really, rather than the "lazy" perception, Khawaja is probably more prone to indecision. Players who are more limited and perhaps also less cerebral have an easier time picking their shots. Just compare Mark Waugh and Steve Waugh. Junior was the better player on his day, but Tugga had more days and lasted longer through tough periods. There's a lot for the artisan batsman to learn from the likes of Martyn, or Amla, or also Bell, in terms of refining strokeplay for long stays at the crease.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (September 5, 2014, 5:01 GMT)

Khawaja isn't far out of the team but at the moment he isn't quite there. One good season and he is back in there.

Posted by kimbosterelny on (September 5, 2014, 4:52 GMT)

He has played 17 test innings for a high score of around 65 and 2 fifties. True, he has never been given a sustained run in the team, and has had no chance to settle into a well-defined role. But that is not kicking the door down with alpha performances. It is somewhat like the Phil Hughes story in not having been given much opportunity to settle, but Hughes has some real successes in his somewhat up and down, in and out, career.

At best, homeworkgate was a communication failure; more likely desperate flailing around by management out of ideas and skills. The horror, the horror ...

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (September 5, 2014, 4:44 GMT)

@Robert Roemer: Nothing to do with Clarke mate. It was Mickey Arthur, Clarke seemed very supportive of Khawaja when asked about him.

Posted by   on (September 5, 2014, 4:20 GMT)

too clean cut for Michael Clarke, that's all. There had to be scapegoats and they were the guys Michael Clarke didn't like at the time. You think he would have done it to his buddies? Watson, Khawaja.. clean-cut, intelligent... possible captaincy material, and Clarke wanted to suppress them so as to maintain his own position. That homeworkgate saga was just beyond ridiculous, the low point of Australian cricket to my mind.

Posted by BobYukta on (September 5, 2014, 4:01 GMT)

He reminds me of Damien Martyn in that he has the technique and style, but just lacks the mental application. Easier said than done I know, but I hope he can emulate Martyn and be a extremely successful player for Australia.

Posted by MAHafeez on (September 5, 2014, 3:28 GMT)

Poor unlucky fella, think deserved better. Talented and stylish. Good luck.

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