County news January 26, 2012

Khawaja agrees to Derbyshire return

ESPNcricinfo staff

Derbyshire have confirmed the return of Usman Khawaja, the Australia batsman, as their overseas player for the second half of the 2012 season. Khawaja will join up with the county in mid-June for the Friends Life t20, taking over from Martin Guptill - who is also back for a second stint - when he leaves for New Zealand's tour of the West Indies.

Khawaja, who lost his place in Australia's Test side for the India series after playing in his country's first home defeat to New Zealand in 26 years, started the 2011 season at Derbyshire. The left-hand batsman made 319 runs at 39.87 in four County Championship appearances, with a hundred in his final match, before leaving to attend a training camp ahead of the Australia A tour of Zimbabwe. Guptill then joined the county as Khawaja's replacement.

"Usman is a talented and prolific batsman with an excellent future," Derbyshire's head coach Karl Krikken said. "We are delighted to bring him back to the County Ground. We were hugely impressed with Usman during his previous spell with the club and the 2012 season will give him the opportunity of settling into a longer spell and hopefully scoring plenty of runs."

"We only saw what he was truly capable of on the field at the end of his time [here] but he is clearly a very fine player and was very good around the changing-room. I spoke to Usie last week and he was very keen to come back and do a job for us and part of the reason for that was because he realised how much good playing in county cricket could be for his game. We're really looking forward to having him back."

Khawaja made his Australia debut during the 2010-11 Ashes series but has seen his international career stall after scoring just one half-century in six Test appearances. He could, however, be involved in Australia A's tour of England in July and August, with Krikken saying that there would be a "contingency plan" in place should the situation arise.