Khawaja puts current Australia Test side on the all-time honours roll

Reigning ICC Men's Test Player of the Year Usman Khawaja believes his side is just as good as any Australian team to have previously graced the field.

Khawaja has played a major role in Australia's recent run of success in the longest format of the game, with the Aussies claiming their first ICC World Test Championship title against India at The Oval last year and then displacing Rohit Sharma's side as the No.1 ranked Test nation earlier this month.

While those accolades will stand the test of time, just where the current side sits in relation to previous Australian teams to have dominated against the red-ball is a point that can be debated time and again.

Usman Khawaja in awe of the current Australian team

Usman Khawaja in awe of the current Australian team

Can you judge Sir Donald Bradman and Ray Lindwall with modern contemporaries Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc? Is current first-choice spinner Nathan Lyon anywhere near as good as the great Shane Warne? Or how would former skippers Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh rate in comparison to current captain Pat Cummins?

Khawaja is old enough to remember the powerful Australian sides of the 1990s and early 2000s that dominated Test cricket, and the stylish left-hander thinks the current crop of players are at least on par with these excellent teams of the past.

Usman Khawaja accepts ICC Men's Test Player of the Year award

Australia opener Usman Khawaja was not expecting to be named the ICC Men's Test Player of the Year in 2023.

"I think this current Australian team is as good as any other team that's played before," Khawaja boldly declared.

“I mean, you look at the bowlers that we have – Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon and then you mix it in with the batting, particularly the World Test Championship team that won it last year with David Warner and Steve Smith.

“I think it's as good as any of the other teams that I've grown up watching. And I don't say that lightly.”

Khawaja still remembers the team Waugh captained to a record 16 straight Test triumphs between October 1999 and February 2001 and the side led by Ponting between 2005 and 2008 that matched that effort of 16 consecutive Test wins.

Those Australian sides that dominated Test cricket around the turn of the century are littered with famous names and Khawaja knows how good they were.

"I've grown up watching some amazing Australian teams and I would never say we are better than any of them, never,” he said.

"Those amazing teams, especially of the early 2000s did some amazing feats. But this team, the balance, what it has, it's one of the strongest ones I've played in."

Australia win first World Test Championship mace - Full Match Highlights | WTC23 Final

Full Match Highlights: The key moments from all five days of the ICC World Test Championship Final 2023 as Australia beat India by 209 runs to secure their first WTC mace

Khawaja's run of form with the bat was a major reason behind Australia’s successful World Test Championship run, with the 37-year-old scoring a total of 1621 runs during the 2021-2023 cycle to be second behind England's Joe Root for the most runs scored over the two-year period.

His resurgence back into Australia's Test side also culminated in claiming the ICC Test Player of the Year award last year, and the veteran believes the honour bestowed upon him is as high as anything he has previously achieved in cricket.

"It has to be probably the greatest honour that I've received," Khawaja said.

"It's not just in Australia, it's not domestic cricket, it's worldwide. When you look at the list of cricketers who've won the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year, (Kumar) Sangakkara, Ricky Ponting, Steve Smith, some of the greats of the game and it's quite humbling to have won the same trophy.

"If you had told me any time in my career, particularly two years ago that I'd be winning ICC Test Cricketer of the Year, I would have laughed in your face. It's something, I think it's probably going to be one of the most cherishing awards that I have in my career."

NewsICC World Test ChampionshipAustraliaUsman Khawaja 12/18/1986