Usman Khawaja fires back at Aussie legends amid SCG Test controversy

Steve Waugh and Allan Border led a chorus of criticism after the opening day of the third Test was heavily disrupted.

Usman Khawaja, pictured here at the SCG alongside Steve Waugh.
Usman Khawaja has hit back after comments from Steve Waugh. Image: Getty

Usman Khawaja has hit back after a number of Aussie cricket legends questioned why there wasn't more play on the opening day of the third Test at the SCG. Just 47 overs were played on Wednesday due to rain and poor light in Sydney, which caused a two-and-a-half hour delay in the middle session.

The rain wasn't really the issue, with play delayed due to the poor light despite the floodlights being on around the SCG. When play finally resumed late in the day there were only four overs bowled before play was again halted.

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Former Australia captain Steve Waugh led a chorus of criticism against the farcical rules in place in Test cricket, bemoaning the fact that the players weren't on the field when the lights were on. Fellow former Test captain Allan Border said the rules around bad light were 'too soft', while Waugh's twin brother Mark also said play should have continued under lights.

But speaking on Thursday morning, Khawaja said it was nearly impossible to see the red ball properly. "When the light deteriorates that much, with the red ball, you just can't see the seam," he told the ABC.

"Even with the spinners it was tough. I couldn't see the seam out of the hand just before we went off and then we came back on and with the pace bowlers, with it being dark, it gets to the point where it's dangerous."

Khawaja said the lights didn't offer much assistance and was gobsmacked that the likes of Waugh and Border were unhappy. Khawaja pointed out that the rules back when Waugh and Border played made it possible for the batting side to leave the field if they felt the light wasn't good enough. Nowadays it comes down to the umpires and a reading on a light meter.

Usman Khawaja, pictured here as rain disrupts play in the third Test at the SCG.
Usman Khawaja looks on as rain disrupts play in the third Test at the SCG. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

"It's always been the case with the red ball and I'm not sure if it's ever going to change," Khawaja said. "The lights help to an extent but when it gets down even further, the lights don't do crap.

"I understand it's frustrating, but this is Test cricket, it's been going on for 100 years and there's some traditions it's just too hard to change. You can't really change the red ball and it's viewing. Back in the day ... we got offered the light ... and we took it every single time - unless the game was on the line.

"So I do find it a bit bizarre when the old players come out and say we should be playing through the light, because I promise you, every time the batsman got offered the light, they went off. It is hard to see ... and at some level, it becomes dangerous and we know cricket can be a very dangerous game at times so we need to be respectful of that."

Marnus Labuschagne says pink ball not the answer

Some have suggested a pink ball should be used when the light is poor, as we see during day-night Tests. Others have said the red ball should be scrapped altogether for all matches.

"I certainly hope not, because the balls are just so different," Marnus Labuschagne said at stumps on Wednesday. "There is no consistency with the pink ball. There is no consistent swing, everything happens quite erratically. The balls are made differently ... and react so much differently with spin and pace.

"Sometimes you feel like you can see (the red ball) really well when it is dark. But it wasn't one of those days. And the red ball under lights, it just doesn't stand out. It's quite tough and dull. It's probably more dangerous for the fielders, because you can't see it square of the wicket.

"The reality of the game is it has to be safe. And when you have two teams bowling fast, you can't be out there when it is too dark."

Labuschagne was dismissed on the final ball of the opening day before play was called off. Khawaja cashed in when play resumed on Thursday, scoring his third-consecutive century at the SCG.

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