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Usman Khawaja reveals trait wife 'hates' amid telling call on Test cricket retirement

Khawaja will be 38 by the time India come to tour Australia for the summer of 2024/25.

Seen here, Usman Khawaja and his wife Rachel.
Usman Khawaja says his wife Rachel gets annoyed by one particular trait of his. Pic: Getty

Usman Khawaja is refusing to put an end date on his international cricket career after admitting that his sole focus is on the next Test starting against New Zealand on Thursday. Kiwi fans were rocked on the eve of the two-Test series by veteran quick Neil Wagner's retirement from the Test arena, depriving fans of another showdown with Steve Smith.

However, Khawaja says retirement is not something that he is thinking about, despite the fact he'll be 38 when India tours Australia next summer. Khawaja's stance is not surprising considering he's the reigning ICC Test Player of the Year after a massive 2023 that saw him plunder a whopping 1210 runs in 13 matches.

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The veteran batter's incredible year included centuries against powerhouses India and England, who will both tour to Australia for blockbuster Test series against across the next two summers down under. In fact, after Australia's two Tests against New Zealand, Khawaja and the Aussies won't play another red-ball game until the India series kicks off in December.

That break could actually help prolong Khawaja's Test career after one of his busiest years in 2023, with a World Test Championship final sandwiched between overseas tours of India and England. Khawaja is refusing to look as far ahead as next summer though, despite admitting his opposition to planning is something that annoys his wife Rachel.

“I don’t want to look too far ahead because two years is a long time in sport, one year is a long time in sport, three years is a long time in sport and so there is a decent gap coming up,” Khawaja said. “So for me I guess there is no finishing line. Honestly, someone says, ‘Can you see yourself playing next summer’? I’m probably like, ‘Yeah’, but I’m not gonna let my mind drift off there.

“So for me, it’s just about this next Test match, this next innings, then I’ll worry about the next. My wife hates it ‘cause I’m not a planner and I don’t plan for that reason. She’s like, ‘Oh, when are you leaving for your flight?’ the other day. And I’m like, ‘I don’t know’. She’s like, ‘You’re flying tomorrow’. I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ll figure that out tonight’.

“She hates it ‘cause she likes to plan. I’m just sort of go with the flow kind of thing. And I think that’s what helps me a little bit with cricket and making sure I don’t look too far ahead ‘cause it didn’t pass when I have looked too far ahead, that’s when I got myself in trouble.”

Pictured here, Usman Khawaja with his family during Australia's Ashes series in England.
Usman Khawaja is seen here with his family during Australia's Ashes series in England in 2023. Pic: Getty

Khawaja says he understands there will always be discussions around his retirement, particularly after former opening partner David Warner's decision to hang up the gloves at 37. Khawaja is now the elder statesman of a team that includes plenty of other experienced players, with the opener insisting age is just a number.

“I understand I’m 37, so people always ask me about the finishing line, but we’ve got a few guys like Nathan Lyon’s 36, Smith’s 35, we’ve got a few experienced players in the team," he added. “But for me it’s just about contributing for the team and I’ve said before making sure I’m enjoying it, making sure I’m mentally ready to play at the Test level.”

New Zealand missing a number of first-choice players

Thursday's Test in Wellington will mark the first time in eight years that Australia have played the Black Caps in New Zealand. As well as the retirement of Wagner, the Kiwis have been dealt another blow after opener Devon Conway was ruled out with a thumb injury.

Conway suffered the injury while keeping in the T20 series against Australia last week and will join paceman Kyle Jamieson as first-choice players set to miss the opening Test against Australia. "It's disappointing for Devon to be ruled out on the eve of an important match," New Zealand coach Gary Stead said. "He's a class player batting at the top of the order for us, and I know he was really looking forward to this series."

Wagner's retirement will no doubt come as a relief for Smith, who came out second best the last time the pair locked horns in the 2019/20 series in Australia. Wagner dismissed Smith four times in five innings using targeted short-pitched deliveries, taking figures of 4-27 off 26.3 overs against the Aussie batter.

with AAP

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