Melbourne: Having been pulled out of Australia’s one-day team to prepare for India, then ignored by selectors for every match in the subcontinent, batsman Usman Khawaja is guarded about his chances of winning a Test recall for the Ashes.
The stylish number three suffered a further blow on Thursday when he was left out of Australia’s one-day squad for next month’s Champions Trophy in England and Wales.
Being excluded from the nation’s formidable one-day team is nothing to be ashamed about given the batting riches at the selectors’ disposal.
However, the India snub was a bitter pill to swallow for a player who had averaged 66.75 in the preceding Test series against Pakistan after topping the runs list in a losing cause against South Africa.
Rubbing salt into the wounds, Khawaja was left to carry the drinks during the four-Test series in India and watch his replacement Shaun Marsh manage only 151 runs at an average of 18.87 from his eight innings.
“The most frustrating thing for me was not to play those three ODIs in New Zealand,” Khawaja told Fox Sports (www.foxsports.com.au).
“I got pulled out of that series to prepare for India and then not playing was a bit hard.” The plain-spoken Khawaja has had a frosty relationship with selectors in the past.
As Australia lurched to an emphatic defeat in Sri Lanka last year, he was axed, somewhat harshly, for the third and final Test along with opener Joe Burns.
He made his displeasure with selectors clear.
Still stinging from the omission, Khawaja told local media he and Burns were “scapegoats” for the team’s wider failures, an indiscretion that earned him a quiet “chat” with coach Darren Lehmann.
Former players and media pundits have repeatedly accused Australia’s selectors of being poor communicators and particularly ham-fisted in their handling of dropped players.
But Khawaja said there were no hard feelings from his India disappointment, with Lehmann having gone out of his way to let him down easily.
“To Boof’s credit, I had a chat to him about all that stuff and he came up to me and he actually knew where I was at in that things had not worked out,” said the Pakistan-born 30-year-old.
Khawaja is likely to be restored to Australia’s top order for the Ashes, given the lefthander’s fine record on home pitches over the past two seasons.
But he has learnt not to look too far ahead.
“It is the pinnacle of cricket when you represent Australia — playing against the old enemy,” he said.
“But to be frank it is still far away and a lot can happen between now and the Ashes.”