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Usman Khawaja: The Comeback King

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Usman_Khawaja_Australia_cricketThere is a huge difference between the Usman Khawaja we see today and the Usman Khawaja we saw five years ago. Today he is the macho, fearless man with an army buzz cut thrashing the bowlers to all parts of the ground. Five years ago, he was said to be a talented young kid who would go on to replace Ricky Ponting. He couldn’t showcase his talent back then and he couldn’t fill in Ponting’s shoes, but right now there couldn’t be a better replacement for Ponting than Khawaja.

Khawaja’s first attempts to make a mark in international cricket were futile as he scored only 377 runs in nine Tests at an average of about 25, and touched the 50-run mark in an innings only once.

In 2015, he was brought back into the team for New Zealand’s tour of Australia.

Since then it has been a different story. Since then it has been Usman Khawaja all the way. Since then it has been all praise, golden numbers and all milestones for Usman Khawaja. Since then there has been a different feeling, watching Khawaja bat.

 

Since his comeback, Khawaja has notched up 644 runs in only 6 innings at a mighty average of almost 129. He has scored four centuries and one fifty after his return. That is a hundred in every Test match in which he has batted in after his return. That is some improvement. Khawaja’s career Test average is just a shade above 51 now. It takes something special to drag a Test average from 25 to 50, and Khawaja has that something special.

Khawaja is a left-hander. Left handers are a special breed of cricket players. They are unique and they are beautiful to watch. Kumar Sangakkara is one example and Brian Lara is another. Both of them are cricketing legends in real terms. Now will Khawaja become a legend? That is a question that no one can answer. Only time will tell.

I see something in Usman Khawaja. I see that little spark in him. The same spark that was seen in Virat Kohli a few years back. The same spark that was seen in AB de Villiers when he came onto the international cricket scene, and the same spark that is now seen in Quinton de Kock, Joe Root and Kane Williamson.

Enough about his batting abilities and enough about his milestones. Now, moving on to the captaincy side. Usman Khawaja definitely looks captaincy material. It is true that Australia recently got a very able captain in Steve Smith and have a vice-captain in David Warner. But Khawaja recently became captain of Queensland and has shown good leadership there.

Khawaja has a sense of maturity. I feel that he is a born leader while he is batting. The way he batted in the Big Bash and then in the Tests and ODI’s recently has been a testament of his maturity, sensibility and grace.

Soon, the tides are going to turn. In my view, it is not unlikely that Usman Khawaja will replace Steve Smith as the captain of Australia. And the day is also not far away when Usman Khawaja will be remembered as one of Australia’s best batsmen and captains.

He has peaked a little late in his career, but this peak is here to stay till the end of his career.



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