Sport

Usman takes charge of Chairman's XI against Sri Lanka

Usman Khawaja of Chairman's XI bats during day one of the international tour match between the Chairman's XI and Sri Lanka at Manuka Oval on December 6, 2012 in Canberra, Australia.
Usman Khawaja of Chairman's XI bats during day one of the international tour match between the Chairman's XI and Sri Lanka at Manuka Oval on December 6, 2012 in Canberra, Australia. Brendon Thorne / Getty Images

BEHIND Usman Khawaja's ultra-cool exterior is someone who loves a scrap.

Last month he scored a brilliant 138 for Queensland against Tasmania on a tricky batting deck in Hobart.

In the same game the Tigers could only manage 95 in their first innings.

Khawaja has a simple mindset when lining up against Australia's best bowling attacks, and this attitude has him back in contention for a Test recall.

The gifted 25-year-old has scored 257 runs at 51.40 in this season's Ryobi Cup, and 330 runs at 36.67 in the Sheffield Shield.

He was rewarded for his form with captaincy of the Chairman's XI in a three-day game starting against Sri Lanka today at Manuka Oval.

"If you're scoring runs it's simple - just watch and hit the ball," he said.

"I try not to complicate things too much."

But don't be fooled by his calm nature - Khawaja is a serious competitor.

The former New South Welshman even enjoys batting on his new home deck the Gabba when it can be a little tricky at the beginning of an innings.

"I like batting at the Gabba - it's tough early on but it's a nice place to play at and I'm enjoying myself up there," he said.

"It's been a great change of scenery for me.

"I've grown up more (since being dropped from the Australian Test side a year ago) as a cricketer and a person as well."

Call it a change of scenery or a lift in his maturity, there is no denying that Khawaja is once again a serious option for the national Test side, especially after Ricky Ponting's retirement.

Calls for him to re-join the national set-up grew louder after the series-deciding Test in Perth, which the Aussies lost on the back of their top order batsmen failing to fire.

But the Pakistani-born Khawaja did not choose to criticise those in front of him in the pecking order, again assessing the situation with his typically measured approach.

"Australia batted really well in the first two Tests and a lot of people have short memories," he said.

"They forget that (opening batsmen) David Warner and Ed Cowan got hundreds in that series."

Topics:  cricket, manuka oval, queensland, sri lanka, usman khawaja



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