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Khawaja: Australia's stability will serve them well in India

Steven Smith cautioned of starting the tour with too many 'preconceived ideas'

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
10-Jan-2023
Usman Khawaja believes the stability in Australia's Test squad puts them in a strong position to challenge India next month as they look to win a series in the country for the first time since 2004.
Australia will announce their squad on Wednesday and the fact only a handful of positions are really up for debate, especially in the batting, reinforces Khawaja's view.
Since the final Test of last year's Ashes, when Khawaja was promoted to open in place of Marcus Harris after his stunning twin hundreds on his comeback against England, Australia have only made one change to their top seven in 11 Tests and that was an enforced one due to Cameron Green's broken finger which led to a recall for Matt Renshaw in Sydney.
The bowling has seen a little more switching around with Mitchell Swepson playing in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, a few injuries and absences among quick bowlers and latterly Ashton Agar's call-up at the SCG.
Khawaja is also part of a senior trio of batters alongside Steven Smith and David Warner who have extensive experience in the subcontinent, albeit Warner's relatively lean record in India could yet be a problem for Australia.
"We've played a lot of games in the subcontinent," Khawaja said at the premier for season two of The Test documentary in Sydney. "Every single player, particularly the batting, has played in the subcontinent numerous times and you take a lot from those experiences.
"Think the stability of this team is a big one, too. Every time I've gone to subcontinent I've felt like there's been a lot of chopping and changing, talked about horses for courses back in the day, it's very hard to win cricket games when that's happening in my opinion. The stability there has been for this team, at least the last year and a half, think that will put us in good stead."

Khawaja: Continuity of selection breeds confidence


The tour will also be a significant one for Travis Head who has become a formidable force on home soil but struggled on the two overseas tours last year with 91 runs in seven innings. However, Khawaja believes the environment within the current squad, where players are backed to perform over a long period, gives them the best chance to succeed.
"I've been calling for it for a long time," he said. "Test cricket is hard enough, it's even harder when it feels like you only have three games to prove yourself. A lot of the young guys you were coming in during the last 10 years probably did feel that way in a lot of respects. Andrew McDonald and Pat are very good at that."
However, some selection decisions could be dictated by conditions and Australia may use various different balances to their side throughout, with a lot centering on how soon Green is available. Smith, who has been on two Test tours of India, scoring three centuries with an average of 60.00, knows that firm plans can't really be made until they get there.
"You can't go in with too many preconceived ideas," he said. "You have to play what is in front of you. It depends what wickets they serve up to what combinations we play and how you play on those wickets as well. Been there a few times, they have been challenging tours. We got pretty close last time we were there, we weren't too far away. Hopefully a few of us who were there have got some learnings for this time and hopefully we can impart some knowledge on the young guys and have a really successful tour."
After the final Test against South Africa, Pat Cummins said he expected the squad would provide plenty of options. "I think our squad will have basically all possibilities. It's a big series, so we want everything at our disposal."
Possible Australia squad for India tour David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (capt), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Ashton Agar, Lance Morris, Mitchell Swepson, Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb, Todd Murphy

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo