Pat Cummins' massive call on Usman Khawaja for fifth Ashes Test

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  • Usman Khawaja
    Usman Khawaja
    Australian cricketer
  • Pat Cummins
    Pat Cummins
    Australian cricketer
  • Marcus Harris
    Australian cricketer
Pictured here, Usman Khawaja celebrates scoring back-to-back centuries in Sydney.
Usman Khawaja's back-to-back centuries in Sydney make him very difficult for selectors to drop for Hobart. Pic: AAP

In-form Aussie batter Usman Khawaja's hopes of playing in the fifth and final Ashes Test have been given a massive boost after a glowing endorsement from captain, Pat Cummins.

Khawaja returned from more than two years in the Test wilderness to plunder back-to-back centuries in Sydney's thrilling fourth Ashes Test draw against England.

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Despite becoming just the 17th Australian to hit twin tons in the same Test, Khawaja admitted that he expected to be left out of Hobart's final Test when Travis Head returns from a Covid-enforced absence.

Head is expected to return after also impressing with 248 runs at 62 this summer, making the No.5 spot his own before coming down with the virus.

It leaves Marcus Harris as the man under the most pressure, with the opener still yet to hit a Test century after 14 matches and averaging 25.29.

Harris once again failed to kick on from a promising start in the fourth Test after being removed for 27 on Saturday, having made 38 in the first innings.

The Victoria batter's 76 in the first innings at the MCG is the only half century of the series for Harris, who selectors have so far kept faith with.

However, Khawaja's irresistible form in Sydney has led many experts such as Shane Warne to label the classy left-hander as "just about undroppable".

Cummins has all but thrown his bat in for Khawaja to remain in the Test side after declaring that he can bat in any position in Australia's batting line-up.

"I'll preface it by saying I'm not a selector, but when someone comes out and hits twin hundreds, it's pretty hard to go past them for the week after," Cummins said.

"So we'll work through that, the selectors will work through that the next few days.

"But when someone's running hot, has got a heap of experience like Uzzy, the way he plays is fantastic."

Seen here, Aussie opener Marcus Harris plays a shot in the fourth Ashes Test against England.
Opener Marcus Harris looks under the most threat of being dropped if Usman Khawaja keeps his spot for the fifth Ashes Test. Pic: Getty

In a further threat to Harris, Khawaja also has experience opening in both Test and first-class cricket, having done so for Australia as recently as 2019.

Questioned on whether he believed Khawaja had the flexibility to slot straight into that role if selectors asked him to, Cummins was confident he would.

Skipper hails Usman Khawaja's versatility 

"I guess that's why he was the spare batter and picked in the squad originally," Cummins said.

"It felt like he could replace any batter from No.1 to No.6 really well. He's hugely versatile.

"I know there's been question marks historically on him playing over in Asia, but you see how well he's played spin recently.

"Reverse sweeping, sweeping. He's just someone who is in total command of his game and that's why you love experience."

Australia have a tour of Khawaja's birthplace in Pakistan ahead in March, as well as trips to Sri Lanka and India in the next 15 months.

Cummins' comments come after stand-in England coach Graham Thorpe also admitted over the weekend he would be "very surprised" if Khawaja was overlooked for Hobart.

Meanwhile, Cummins suggested the fit-again Jhye Richardson or Michael Neser could still have a role to play with the pink ball in Hobart.

Richardson took a five-wicket haul in Adelaide to win Australia that day-night Test, but after having leg soreness Scott Boland has taken 14 wickets at 8.64 in his place.

"We'll see how all the bowlers pull up," Cummins said.

"Scotty was a little bit sore. Too early to probably talk about all those kinds of things until we get down there and have a look at the wicket."

with AAP

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