'Something's going on': Cricket outcast at centre of stunning claim

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Usman Khawaja is seen celebrating a century for QLD in the Sheffield Shield.
Usman Khawaja's recent form for the Bulls has been incredible. Pic: Getty

Usman Khawaja's selection snub in all formats of Australian cricket raised eyebrows at the time, and the Queensland batsman's scintillating recent form has only made it even more unbelievable.

Khawaja starred for the Bulls twice in the space of three days, setting up a four-wicket win over Tasmania in the one-day cup after a swashbuckling century guided his side to a Sheffield Shield win over Tasmania on Saturday.

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The 34-year-old is undoubtedly one of the classiest batsman in the country, but national selectors were unable to find a place for him in the Test or limited overs set-up for Australia.

Michael Clarke said he was baffled as to how Khawaja wasn't considered to be among the best batsmen in Australia, and the former national skipper has again urged selectors to have a rethink.

Khawaja's last Test for Australia came during the winning Ashes series against England in 2019, and he failed to earn a call-up during the recent series against India.

That was despite injuries to openers David Warner and Will Pucovski, as well as the worrying form of Joe Burns and Matthew Wade.

Khawaja was then left out of the 19-man Test squad for the Tour of South Africa - later scrapped due to the Covid-19 concerns - and the 18-man squad for the T20 series against New Zealand.

Seen here, Usman Khawaja in action for Australia during the 2019 Ashes series.
Usman Khawaja hasn't played a Test for Australia since the 2019 Ashes series. Pic: Getty

The stunning snub by Australian selectors caught many cricket fans by surprise and Clarke has suggested that there is more to the situation than meets the eye.

“I think a lot of people messaged [the program] when the two squads were announced – this squad over in New Zealand and then the Test squad,” Clarke said on the Big Sports Breakfast.

“There was like 40-odd players announced that were travelling and Ussie couldn’t make the top 40 and I said at the time: ‘That’s not right, he’s good enough. Ussie can play all three formats yet he can’t make one of these teams.’ Then there was a token you’re on standby for the Test squad if someone gets injured.

“I’ve said it before there is obviously something going on. All Ussie can do is put runs on the board. He’s got 100 in the Shield game, 90-odd in the one-dayer. I think that’s exactly how he’ll be looking at it as well – I’ll just keep scoring runs and sooner or later the selectors will have to come back to me.”

Pictured here, former Australia captain Michael Clarke and Queensland batsman Usman Khawaja.
Michael Clarke can't understand how selectors don't consider Usman Khawaja to be among Australia's best batsmen. Pic: AAP/Getty

Khawaja in blistering form for QLD

Fresh off an unbeaten 115 in the Bulls' final-day Sheffield Shield victory over the Tigers on Saturday, the 34-year-old hit 93 against the same opponent on Monday.

Despite some late jitters at Bellerive Oval, the Bulls ran down Tasmania's total of 237 with 14 balls to spare.

Khawaja looked on track for his 15th 'List A' century until he edged Nathan Ellis behind in the 42nd over.

But it was another composed knock from the in-form Khawaja, who boasts averages of more than 40 at Test and ODI level.

He shared an 87-run partnership with recently deposed Test opener Burns - the Bulls' next-best-performing batsman with 36.

Clarke argues that David Warner's troublesome groin issue is even more of a reason to bring Khawaja back into the national fold.

Warner said during commentary on Monday night's T20 match between Australia and New Zealand that the groin problem is "going to aggravate me for the next six to nine months".

The batsman also added that he had several weeks of rehabilitation ahead of him.

“When you’re losing senior players like that, that’s when Ussie (Khawaja) does come back into the frame," Clarke added.

"He’s been around for a long time and he’s experienced. I think he’d be important for this Australian set-up."

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