Usman Khawaja, Australia's likely Ashes No. 3 batsman, has questioned the selectors' policy in Asian Test matches this year, saying that the changes from last summer's refreshed top six had created "a lot of instability in the team".
After playing a central role in the batting order during the home summer, assuming a more senior role alongside the newly promoted duo of Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb, Khawaja was summarily dropped for the India tour that followed on account of a poor batting record in previous appearances in the region.
Having carried the drinks throughout that series, Khawaja was recalled for the first Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka, but two cheap dismissals later and he was again on the outside in Chittagong. While widely expected to resume in more familiar climes against England, Khawaja said he remained unconvinced about the merits of unsettling chopping and changing a Test match batting order according to the conditions.
"They never used to do it before, I'm not really sure why they do it now," Khawaja told ABC Radio. "It creates a lot of instability in the team I reckon, going in and out for everyone. You hear things like 'the players are playing afraid' or whatnot, but that's what happens when you drop players all the time. We've been doing that a fair bit lately.
"I know as captain of Queensland I try and avoid that as much as possible; players I pick in the first game, I try to stick with them as long as possible, because they'll always be the best players on the park. For some reason it seems like lately in Australia that the best players always seem to be the next guy in, which I don't totally agree with.
"[It is] very hard to develop your game and play some consistent cricket if you're not getting consistent opportunities overseas, which I haven't been getting. It's frustrating but I've just got to focus on what's in front of me. I'd love to win an Ashes series - it's something I haven't been able to do yet."
In contrast to the approach he saw being taken in Asia, Khawaja predicted Australia's Ashes lineup would contain relatively few surprises, reasoning that the selectors and the national captain Steven Smith had been thinking about their ideal XI for some time. The inclusions of Renshaw and Handscomb came at a time when they were able to take part in 10 Tests before going into the Gabba Test against England in late November.
"I think the Australian team is pretty stable. I'm confident the selectors already know what their make-up of the team is going to be for the first Test," Khawaja said. "There might be a few positions up for grabs depending on what happens in the Shield games but I'm pretty confident they know what they're expecting.
"There was a big change last year, we brought in younger players, Renshaw, Handscomb came into the team, they did that to develop them over time, not to throw them in the deep end of the Ashes and those two have played really well. So I think they've been planning for this for a while. There's a fair bit of stability there."