Usman Khawaja, the Australia top-order batsman, is ready to go back to the drawing board and work his way back into the Test team after being dropped midway through the Ashes.
Khawaja, part of the first three Ashes matches in August, was left out for the final two Tests after the in-form Steve Smith recovered from concussion and forced his way back into the side, while Marnus Labuschagne impressed in Smith's injury-enforced absence and cemented his place.
Khawaja said he was "disappointed" he couldn’t score more than 40 in his six Ashes innings, but was glad to play a part in Australia retaining the urn. "It was massive. It was huge," Khawaja was quoted as saying by Wide World of Sports. "Obviously disappointed to not be playing, but I felt like I was still playing pretty well. I felt like I was in a good place. Disappointed to not play but, at the same [time], I wasn't going to drag any of my team-mates down."
It was the latest setback in Khawaja’s 44-Test career. He has faced the axe on multiple occasions since making his Test debut in 2011, and ahead of the fourth Ashes Test, captain Tim Paine publicly admitted Khawaja “hasn't scored the runs he or we would like”.
The 32-year-old was looked on to fill the void after Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were suspended last year. He slammed 141 against Pakistan in Justin Langer's first match as Australia head coach, and also notched up a hundred against the touring Sri Lankans earlier this year, to further strengthen his credentials in the lead-up to the Ashes.
During the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, Khawaja played nine games and scored two fifties, before being ruled out with a hamstring injury. On his return, he found it increasingly difficult to hold onto his Test place.
With Australia scheduled to play their next Test series only in November, against Pakistan, Khawaja has ample time to fine-tune his game in domestic cricket. Currently, he is with Queensland, and will play his first one-day Marsh Cup game against Victoria on Sunday.
"It's about keeping things really simple," Khawaja said."I'm only going to be concentrating on what I can do for Queensland at this stage. As an individual, if I'm doing the right things, yeah, obviously there's higher honours still at stake. But for me, it's not about concentrating about that.
"If I'm not scoring runs for Queensland, if I'm not helping them win cricket games – the rest won't happen."
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