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If I’ve learned anything, it’s work hard, train hard, says Usman Khawaja ahead of Ashes tour

New Delhi : Australia’s veteran left-handed opener Usman Khawaja believes that his past learnings from two Ashes trips have made him realise the importance of working and training hard while keeping low expectations as a batter while playing Test matches in England, ahead of third Ashes trip coming in just a month.

Khawaja was dropped from the Test team in Ashes trips of 2013 and 2019 while not getting a chance to be on the touring party in 2015. His record from Tests in England doesn’t make for great reading — average at a paltry 19.66 from 12 innings. But since recall to Test cricket in January 2022, no batter has scored more runs than Khawaja’s 1608 runs, with the average at 69.90 from 16 Tests.

“England is, in my opinion, the toughest place in the world to bat for a top three batsman, plain and simple. The new ball is tough work, but then you get some (weather) conditions, and it’s a bit of luck involved in it, too. Sometimes you get the other team out, then suddenly the clouds roll over, and other times you’re out there and it’s nice and sunny.”

“If I’ve learned anything, it’s work hard, train hard. If you’re going to England, go with low expectations, and then just work on every game — one at a time — because you are going to fail as a batsman. But when you do score, you try to cash in as much as you can,” Khawaja was quoted as saying by The Sydney Morning Herald ahead of pre-Ashes training camp starting in Brisbane.

Khawaja also believes he has been unfairly dropped from the Test side on many occasions, due to which his appearances in Test cricket have been only 60 despite debuting in the format in 2011.

“As a cricketer, you’re going to fail in one, two, three games, that’s very normal, and then you score runs, and then you’ll fail, and then you score runs. It’s just a cycle of cricket. I’ve always been big on just picking your best players to win because they’ll score the most runs consistently.”

“And I think over the years with selection in Australian cricket, we have chased our tail a little bit trying to pick players in form. The form is temporary and class is not, so I always prefer to pick players that you think are going to score for you consistently over a period of time. Same with bowling.”

“I felt like I was still in the top six batsmen in Australia (in 2019). It can be tough to come back. I think the new selectors (chairman George Bailey and Tony Dodemaide) with (coach) Andrew McDonald, they’ve experienced that too, and they understand that part of the game. Hence, we’ve had a lot more stability in selecting and picking players and sticking with them. And I’m all for it a lot,” he concluded.

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