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Khawaja to bolster struggling Lancashire

Daniel Brettig

June 6, 2014

Comments: 11 | Text size: A | A

Usman Khawaja plays a cover drive, Gloucestershire v Australia A, Tour match, Bristol, 1st day, June 21, 2013
Usman Khawaja lost his Test place during last year's Ashes in England © Getty Images
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Usman Khawaja is set to depart from pre-season training with Queensland to provide desperately needed reinforcement for the fragile batting of Lancashire.

Having gambled on a top six largely homegrown apart from the 36-year-old Ashwell Prince following promotion to Division one and the retirement of Simon Katich, Lancashire have now called upon the services of another Australian left-hander in the form of Khawaja.

A frustrated Ashes tourists last year when his three Tests yielded a solitary half-century, Khawaja played well for Queensland during the southern summer, notably when coshing an unbeaten 182 to help his side to a memorable fourth-innings chase against South Australia.

However he was omitted from the three Australia A squads named for a top end series to be played in July and August, leaving him free to take up an English offer.

Lancashire will be grateful to have him, as after seven matches the club sits in relegation territory at eighth of nine teams, with only one outright win so far. The earlier idealistic reliance on youth, as outlined by Peter Moores following a loss to Nottinghamshire in April before he became England coach, has now given way to pragmatism.

"We want to give opportunities to our own," Moores said at the time. "We think that you don't really know how good they can be until they come up against top players. In the past, that has worked well for us and there were several players in our Championship winning side who emerged that way. Having said that, we reserve the right to bring in an overseas player, but it might be we go the whole season without one."

Earlier this week Mike Watkinson, the cricket director, admitted the initial plans had not worked. "Paul Horton and Ashwell Prince have been around and established for a while," he wrote in his Manchester Evening News column. "The other top order batsmen, we thought it was their time. But it hasn't quite been their time. We have had faith in a group of five or six players and we hoped three of them would establish themselves strongly and have a big impact on the season.

"We are nearly half-way through the campaign now and it hasn't really worked out that way. We don't have all season to play around with this. It is something we need to constantly monitor and see what the best balance is between success for the team and short-term outcomes, and development of those players who we have put a lot of faith into."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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Posted by Booniedoon on (June 10, 2014, 0:36 GMT)

I think any perceived problems of Khawaja against spin are purely confidence based rather than any technical flaws. He generally looks pretty good against spin until you put him in for two tests with his spot on the line. Same for Matt Hayden. He already had a good sweep shot when they took him to England first time round and he didnt play in the tests, but everyone said he couldn't play spin until that series in India. I really don't think much changed in his technique, maybe just a little more judicious with his shots and backed himself to use his feet. As for trying out county cricket, he already has, pretty successfully.

Posted by AlSmug on (June 8, 2014, 22:20 GMT)

Khawaja will be a huge asset for a county team , he is an ok state player but in Englands frafile county he will be bigger than ben hur. Any team in the county scene that rely s on home grown talent will be struggling lol

Posted by Big-Dog on (June 8, 2014, 7:42 GMT)

Khawaja is very inconsistant & somewhat overrated so i'm not suprised he was'nt selected in the Aust A side. Probably not a bad move by him to try County Cricket although he may struggle on the slower wickets.

Posted by   on (June 8, 2014, 5:21 GMT)

khawaja - good against pace. Pathetic against spin. So good move to play county - he will improve more there. No point playing A games against spinners who can't bowl outside India.

Posted by Booniedoon on (June 7, 2014, 23:31 GMT)

I think it's crazy he wasn't in the Aus A side picked, there is no way he's not in the top 8 batsmen in the country at the moment (could easily argue for a higher no.). They certainly are good at further undermining the confidence of the fringe players they've stuffed over. On the upside I think this will actually work out better for him, a great selection by Lancs where he can play a senior role, and get a lot more gametime than otherwise..

Posted by HatsforBats on (June 7, 2014, 22:58 GMT)

@Matt.au I can only think that for the 50 over squad the selectors might see Khawaja as one of those "known" quantities, as his domestic form was certainly up there last season. I completely agree re: Forrest, though he did show glimpses again of what he's capable of doing. Cooper I'm not sure about; he plays for Holland, has he made a declaration that he now wants to be eligible for Australia? I know it happened with Nannes but I recall details of how all that went down.

Posted by Matt.au on (June 7, 2014, 16:13 GMT)

@HatsforBats - I'm happy for Cooper to get a go as he hasn't had the chances Forrest has and blown them. Forrests' form over the last couple of years has been terrible at best. It defies logic that he has been selected ahead of Khawaja. Khawajas' 4 day form has been a bit hit and miss and he needs to work on consistency (It's hard not to state the obvious sometimes)

Khawajas' 1 day form has been first rate and it was surprising to see some others picked ahead of him last season.

I think this bloke can turn into the real deal but he needs to start making statements consistently or it might be another 5 years before they are willing to give him a go again.

Posted by   on (June 7, 2014, 12:17 GMT)

Ideally speaking, Ussie shud ve slotted straight into all the 3 teams picked ! He is the best ODI player in the domestic circuit ! Just needs some confidence and some chances and he s got the potential to be the best batsman in Australia ! Can Boof turn his favourite student's career around this year ??

Posted by   on (June 7, 2014, 5:46 GMT)

Hope he does well and also hoping he gets a chance to work on his batting plans against spin bowling. Time to step up and become a consistent allround batsman Mr. Khawaja.

Posted by Peterincanada on (June 7, 2014, 2:49 GMT)

I think this is a good move. The young batsmen are finding the gulf between the first and second division is too much for them. Khawaja will bring much needed stability to the top order.

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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.
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