Sydney : Former Australian cricketers Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne and Kerry O’Keefe feel left-handed batter Usman Khawaja should be retained for the fifth Test at Hobart. In the ongoing fourth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), Khawaja scored 137 in Australia’s first innings, marking a stunning return to the international fold after two-and-a-half years.
On Saturday, Khawaja made the comeback more memorable with an unbeaten 101 in the second innings.
His twin tons meant the 35-year-old joined former Australian players Doug Walters and Ricky Ponting to be the only players to score centuries in both innings of a Test at the SCG.
Khawaja’s fantastic knocks meant the pressure is on opener Marcus Harris to hold on to his spot ahead of the last Ashes Test.
While commentating on Fox Cricket, Gilchrist felt Khawaja had proved himself to be among the top six batters in the country.
“I think he has to stay in the team. I love a sense of loyalty, I know that’s something the selectors and particularly Justin Langer have tried to commit to Marcus Harris with staying with him and they were repaid somewhat down at the MCG, but Harris will be kicking himself he’s missed two opportunities to convert. I think Usman Khawaja has clearly showed he’s in the top-six best batters in Australia.”
He also opined that Khawaja has now built a strong case to be picked for the overseas Test tour to Pakistan and may have opened doors for subsequent trips to Sri Lanka and India.
“I think projecting forward to Pakistan, there’s no reason why Khawaja can’t open there. He did in the UAE, with a fairly positive effect too.”
Warne, the leg-spin great, felt Khawaja was now ‘undroppable’ from Australia’s playing eleven. “I think he’s just about undroppable. I was a bit like let’s give Harris this innings, let’s give him the next Test match, that’s how I was, I think Khawaja himself said ‘I understand Head will come back and Harris has done pretty well,’ so he fully expects to play in Hobart. But I tell you what, the way he’s batted, with the hundred he made and this, he’s making it tough.”
O’Keeffe thinks it is ‘impossible to leave’ Khawaja out of the eleven after his Sydney showings. Khawaja got a lucky break into the playing eleven after fellow left-hander Travis Head tested positive for COVID-19.
“He possibly goes to one to open with (David) Warner. It’s unlucky for Marcus Harris. Is he developing? Probably. But you can’t deny somebody as good as Usman Khawaja inside the top six. The assumption is Travis Head comes back. I don’t think they’d rest him, or could they? They’ve got the subcontinent. Lots of calls to make; Green’s safe, Harris looks the fall guy.”