Usman Khawaja: Australia’s stability will be advantageous in India
Usman Khawaja believes Australia’s Test squad’s stability puts them in a strong position to challenge India next month, when they look to win a series in the country for the first time since 2004.
Australia will announce their squad on Wednesday, and the fact that only a few positions are really up for grabs, particularly in the batting order, reinforces Khawaja’s point.
Since the final Test of last year’s Ashes, when Khawaja was promoted to open in place of Marcus Harris following his stunning twin hundreds on his comeback against England, Australia has only made one change to their top seven in 11 Tests, and that was an unavoidable one due to Cameron Green’s broken finger, which resulted in a recall for Matt Renshaw in Sydney.
With Mitchell Swepson playing in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, a few injuries and absences among quick bowlers, and, most recently, Ashton Agar’s call-up at the SCG, the bowling has seen a little more movement.
Khawaja is also part of a senior trio of batters, including Steven Smith and David Warner, who have extensive experience in the subcontinent, though Warner’s relatively poor record in India may pose a problem for Australia.
“We’ve played a lot of games in the subcontinent,”Khawaja stated this during the season two premiere of The Test documentary in Sydney.
“Every single player, particularly the batting, has played in the subcontinent numerous times and you take a lot from those experiences.”
“Think the stability of this team is a big one, too. Every time I’ve gone to the subcontinent I’ve felt like there’s been a lot of chopping and changing, talking about horses for courses back in the day, it’s very hard to win cricket games when that’s happening in my opinion. The stability there has been for this team, at least the last year and a half, I think that will put us in good stead.”
The tour will also be significant for Travis Head, who has emerged as a formidable force at home but struggled on his two overseas tours last year, allowing 91 runs in seven innings.
However, Khawaja believes that the current squad’s environment, in which players are backed to perform over a long period of time, gives them the best chance of success.
Some selection decisions, however, may be dictated by conditions, and Australia may use a variety of different balances to their advantage throughout, with a lot of emphasis on how soon Green is available.
Smith, who has played on two Test tours to India, scoring three centuries with an average of 60.00, understands that firm plans cannot be made until they arrive.
Pat Cummins said after the final Test against South Africa that he expected the squad to provide plenty of options.
“I think our squad will have basically all possibilities. It’s a big series, so we want everything at our disposal.”
Possible Australia squad for India tour: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (capt), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Ashton Agar, Lance Morris, Mitchell Swepson, Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb, Todd Murphy