'Not convinced': Aussie great's Ashes truth bomb for Usman Khawaja

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Usman Khawaja is pictured here after scoring a century for Qld in the Sheffield Shield.
Usman Khawaja's Sheffield Shield form has rocketed him into Ashes calculations. Pic: AAP

Australian cricket great Ian Chappell has poured cold water over Usman Khawaja's hopes of earning a Test recall for the Ashes series later in the year.

Khawaja has been in fine form for Queensland after averaging 59.12 in the middle order to help the Bulls win last year's Sheffield Shield title.

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The classy left-handed batsman also notched a superb century in Queensland's latest Sheffield Shield victory over Tasmania last week.

With question marks over gun Victoria opener Will Pucovski, following the 10th concussion of his career, Khawaja has rocketed into contention to earn an Ashes recall.

Another Victoria opener, Marcus Harris has also given selectors plenty to think about after a century in the Bushrangers' most recent Shield win over NSW.

Harris spent seven and a half hours at the crease, completing his 19th first-class ton (137) after a productive winter stint with Leicestershire that featured 655 red-ball runs at 54.6.

If Pucovski is overlooked for an opening spot alongside David Warner in Australia's Test side, many believe it's a two-horse race between Khawaja and Harris.

Pictured here, Aussie batsman Will Pucovski during a training session for his country.
Aussie batsman Will Pucovski is recovering after suffering his 10th cricket-related concussion. Pic: Getty

However, former Australia captain Chappell is not convinced by Khawaja, and says his runs have come on batter-friendly pitches against weak bowling attacks.

“I think everyone knows Usman Khawaja can make hundreds against that standard of bowling,” Chappell told Wide World of Sports.

“But I’m not convinced that he’s going to make it against an England attack.”

Despite the fact England will be without frightening quick Jofra Archer, the tourists' bowling attack will likely feature veteran pacemen James Anderson and Stuart Broad, alongside the likes of Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes.

Khawaja was dropped midway through Australia's 2019 Ashes campaign and despite the fact he averages 40.66 at Test level, Chappell thinks it's time selectors look in another direction.

“I really think his horse has bolted,” Chappell said.

“Well, he would have in my books. So, I don’t really see a spot there for him. But the selectors may.

“I’m not convinced that Khawaja is a good enough player... Khawaja’s a good player against mediocre bowling, but against good bowling I don’t think there’s much future there.”

Seen here, Channel 9 commentator Ian Chappell on the coverage for a Test match.
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell says national selectors should look past Usman Khawaja. Pic: Getty

Australia are close to solving their Ashes logistical jigsaw, with selectors expected to hold off finalising a Test squad until Twenty20 World Cup stars face the best of the rest.

Administrators will likely wait until Australia's final World Cup pool game, against West Indies on Saturday night (AEDT), before locking in key dates and details.

But the stage is set for a star-studded match involving an enlarged squad of Ashes 'possibles and probables' on the Gold Coast.

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It's understood the most likely scenario is players will learn whether they are part of coach Justin Langer's plans for the first Test, beginning on December 8 at the Gabba, at the end of the intra-squad clash.

Australia and England's multi-format players were initially expected to share one charter flight from the UAE to Queensland, creating an obvious issue if one side progressed to the final while the other failed to advance beyond the group stage.

The Ashes rivals will still likely depart together if both reach the semi-finals.

But there is now a chance that Langer's team could fly out earlier if eliminated this weekend, with England on the cusp of securing their place in the final four.

Some of Australia's World Cup squad members may fly home separately, with Adam Zampa set to avoid quarantine altogether by returning to Sydney.

But the bulk of the World Cup squad will assemble for the selection shootout that Langer and chairman of selectors George Bailey will use to resolve multiple conundrums, including the final two spots in Australia's top six.

The high-stakes showdown follows the template used by Cricket Australia in 2019, during a brief window between England hosting the one-day World Cup and an Ashes series.

Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Bancroft batted themselves into Australia's Test squad with gritty performances in that corresponding game.

"It was a really good thing. It keeps players under pressure," Langer said after retaining the urn in 2019.

It remains unclear whether Pucovski will be part of the Ashes bootcamp, with the prodigy at risk of missing a further Sheffield Shield match as he treads an uncertain path to the first Test because of concussion.

Pucovski was forced to sit out Victoria's season-opening Shield win over NSW because of a blow to the helmet.

Victoria had been upbeat Pucovski, in the box seat to open alongside David Warner in Brisbane, would be cleared to play their next Shield game beginning on Friday.

But coach Chris Rogers said on Monday the prodigy still has symptoms related to the 10th concussion of his career.

with AAP

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