Australia news January 25, 2016

Khawaja near certainty for World T20 squad, says selector


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Usman Khawaja is a near certainty to be chosen in Australia's squad for the World T20 in India despite being overlooked for both the upcoming T20s against India and the ODI squad to tour New Zealand. Australia's national selector Rod Marsh said Khawaja would be better off playing a Sheffield Shield match to prepare for the Tests against New Zealand, though, rather than potentially being only a backup in the ODI group.

Australia chose 17 men for the three T20s against India, starting in Adelaide on Tuesday, but Marsh said it was likely that several of those players would not make the final 15 for the World T20, a squad that will be named after the ODIs in New Zealand. Khawaja scored 345 runs in the Big Bash League at the phenomenal average of 172.50, and was Man of the Match in the final for his 70 in the Sydney Thunder triumph.

"Well, would you pick him in your T20 side at the moment?" Marsh said when asked if Khawaja was likely to make the World T20 squad. "Three blokes [the other selectors] are going to have to give me a pretty good case to change my mind. Usman is right up there as far as being included in the T20 World Cup squad."

Khawaja is yet to make his Twenty20 international debut, but is in the form of his life and has not been dismissed for less than 50 in any format since October. Since then he has made Test scores of 174, 9*, 121, 144 and 56, and BBL scores of 109*, 62, 104* and 70. Marsh said there was nothing more Khawaja needed to do in the eyes of the selectors.

"We tried our hardest to work him into the side," Marsh said of the ODI squad to tour New Zealand. "But we just couldn't find anyone to leave out of the side, because they're all in fantastic form… It's very disappointing to him, but he probably should make a phone call to Shaun Marsh and ask him how he felt being dropped after getting 182 [in the Hobart Test].

"We'd love to be able to pick 16 or 17 because I think there are 16 or 17 players who actually deserve to be in our one-day side. But we've got two very important Test matches and there being no guarantee that Usman would have played if he was in the side, then he's better off playing a Shield game. That's the way we decided."

Another notable component of the ODI squad was the inclusion of the uncapped legspinner Adam Zampa, who has impressed the selectors in the shorter formats and picked up 12 wickets at 22.50 for the Melbourne Stars in the BBL season. He is competing with fellow legspinner Cameron Boyce, currently part of the T20 squad, for a place in the World T20 group.

"That's exactly what's happening," Marsh confirmed. "His accuracy, his competitive nature, his batting and fielding - he's a pretty good package. Boycey is also a pretty good package. We'll wait and see how he goes against India and we'll wait and see how Adam goes against New Zealand."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rob on January 27, 2016, 22:22 GMT

    Australia is in a bit of a quandary right now. There are 2 glittering prizes up for grabs only weeks apart. We have the possibility of grabbing the #1 test spot and also the T20 wc. If we can't have both, which would we prefer. For me it's a no brainer. The top spot on the test ladder wins hands down. If we don't grab it now it could be years before anyone wrestles it away from the Indians. The T20 wc on the other hand is a bit of a joke imo. It comes around every 2 years and there isn't much international T20 played anyway. It's the only trophy we haven't won but I still give priority to the tests. Hopefully, that's exactly what our selectors have also got in mind. From the looks of things, I'd say they have.

  • Tom on January 27, 2016, 9:59 GMT

    I can understand the pressure Khawaja will be in whenever he eventually get selected. The amount of batting talent Australia has specially on Australian wickets is actually preventing them to come up with a settled side for each format. Khawaja is a class player and has got a technique to be in the Australian side for all format. However the risk is that if he fails in one format that pressure could eventually gets him in all format.

  • Rahul on January 26, 2016, 8:46 GMT

    Khawaja is all class. Get Khawaja to open with Warner, and Marsh at 6. Harsh for Bailey to miss out, the call has to be made.Surely we have better keeper than Wade! Maybe get Tait in?

  • IRFAN on January 26, 2016, 7:37 GMT

    Can pakistan have Khawaja back please

  • tahmidul on January 26, 2016, 6:39 GMT

    Finch is the most overhyped batsman australia ever produced. This guy got zero technique , wasted up a lot of balls and not always scoring big runs. Finch should be sent back to the first class cricket and polished his technique. For t20, Khawaja should open with warner then steven smith at number 3 , bailey at number 4. The rest of the batting order is maxwell , mitchell marsh , travis head and faulker.

  • geoff on January 26, 2016, 5:39 GMT

    Here's a thought: instead of taking Wade, take along a life size cardboard cutout of Rod Marsh and stick it behind the stumps. It will probably keep as well as Wade, and that opens up a spot in the batting for Khawaja. Problem solved!

  • Phil on January 26, 2016, 4:10 GMT

    Finch & Warner are a damn good opening combo, so I would keep that intact, but Khawaja can step in easily. Problem for selectors is that you've got Maxwell, Watson, Wade & Faulkner locked in - so there are only positions 3 & 4 available for the likes of Smith, Khawaja, Chris Lynn & Travis Head. Not a bad problem to have.

  • Prem on January 26, 2016, 3:30 GMT

    Aaron Finch is a hit and miss batsman. He should be dropped and replaced by Khawaja. Steve Smith must be made captain d'oh!

  • John on January 26, 2016, 3:29 GMT

    Usi will more than likely get into the WT20 squad but it seems as though the selectors want him to focus on test cricket more than any other format. He is the no.3 batsmen in the line up and he has a big role to play if we are any chance of beating NZ. ODI's don't really matter all that much and the T20's against India are not a priority either.

  • Saad Amjad on January 26, 2016, 3:16 GMT

    khawaja is better than bailey whos had his day