Dubai, January 1: Usman Khawaja looks all but certain to make his return to international cricket for the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney on Wednesday.
Eleven years after making his Test debut in the corresponding match of the 2010/11 Ashes, the left-hander is tipped to replace Travis Head, who will miss the match after testing positive for Covid-19.
Khawaja’s last appearance for his country came in August 2019, as a member of Australia’s squad that retained the Ashes in the UK.
A member of this Ashes squad since the first Test in Brisbane, Khawaja laments a lack of time in the middle, but believes his time preparing with the group will put him in good stead.
“It’s always nicer when you’re coming off games – I haven’t played for a month now – but it shouldn’t take too long hopefully, if I play and get out there, bat for half an hour and get into it, I should find that sync again,” Khawaja said.
“It’s one of those things where even if I do play, it’ll only be for one game. I understand that situation, (and) hopefully I can go out there and score a hundred and do well for the team in the absence of Heady (Travis Head).”
Head is touted to return for the fifth Test at Blundstone Arena, and sits tenth on the MRF Tyres ICC Test batting rankings.
Khawaja stresses that while a good performance may not guarantee a spot in the next Test, a good performance will look favourably in the eyes of the selectors, with tours to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan on the calendar in 2022.
“There’s a lot of cricket still to come up,” he said. “I’m just putting my head down, making sure I’m working really hard and doing the best I can for Australia whenever I get the opportunity
“I’ll potentially have one game for Australia here, but even if that doesn’t happen, I know there’s still a lot of cricket on the subcontinent which I feel I’m very suited too, and which I’m looking forward to hopefully being a part of moving forward.
All members of Australia’s squad have tested negative to Covid-19 after tests yesterday, though there are concerns for Marcus Harris, who dined with Travis Head before Head’s Covid-positive result.
The fourth Ashes Test begins in Sydney on 5 January.