Khawaja near certainty for World T20 squad, says selector
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