Sport

Usman shows some magic in Hobart

Usman Khawaja makes half a century during day three of the Sheffield Shield match between the Queensland Bulls and the New South Wales Blues at Allan Border Field.
Usman Khawaja makes half a century during day three of the Sheffield Shield match between the Queensland Bulls and the New South Wales Blues at Allan Border Field. David Hardenberg / Getty Images

TORNADOS, hail, rain, and the Usman Khawaja Show - we saw it all in the week that was in Hobart.

There was a Shield game that earned us more points (six) than sessions of cricket played, and Ussie Khawaja was something special.

After losing the entire first day's play to the wrath of 'Huey', the covers were removed on day two to reveal one of the most sporting wickets I've seen in my career.

It was second only to my godfather's Boxing Day '97 strip, and he didn't have any covers!

A soft, green wicket was the flavour of the day, and when the coin fell in favour of the Bulls, skipper Chris Hartley licked his lips and sent them in to bat.

It was one of our first toss wins this season, so when our 'hazardous' opening batsman Wade Townsend heard the good news, he couldn't contain himself.

The bowlers did their jobs and in a flash the Maroons were a few wickets down chasing 95.

Enter our man Ussie.

On an overcast day and supremely underprepared wicket, Ussie set about reeling in the total, and then some, finishing on 138 in a game where no other player made over 50.

I was fortunate enough to watch some of his innings from the non-striker's end and was amazed at his composure and execution on such a wicket.

It was what 'Boof' Lehmann has since described as among the top five centuries he has ever seen.

Not once did Ussie look troubled or loose, but rather classy and content.

One of the things that amazed me most about his innings was his ability to play the short ball.

Fast and short bouncers are a handful at the best of times, but when those short balls are nipping and seaming off the wicket as well, it's a whole different ball game.

Deliveries that most players might duck, weave, or wear, Ussie would calmly pull in front of square to the boundary. He had a shot for every occasion, scoring runs to all parts of the ground.

Unfortunately the timing of our Shield game meant the national selectors weren't on hand to witness his innings, with them in Brisbane attending the Test match.

Let's hope the circumstances in which Usman's innings were played don't go unnoticed, as I firmly believe he is more than ready to be elevated back to the Test team.

Topics:  cricket hobart sheffield shield usman khawaja



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