Usman Khawaja’s unique record of scoring back-to-back centuries at Sydney Cricket Ground against England at 35 years old certainly proved that age can just be an number.
The star of the fourth Ashes Test was lucky to even get a chance to bat as he stepped in after Travis Head tested positive for Covid-19. He grabbed this opportunity with both hands and has given the Australian bowlers enough to play with on the fifth day to make it 4-0 to the hosts — if the rain stays away.
After Khawaja’s unlikely return to Test cricket and the twin centuries in the fourth clash against England in Sydney, Ian Bishop commented rightly: “Put in the work, stay ready, seize your opportunity, it’s life lessons and comeback for ages.”
How true that is.
Khawaja’s last Test match was in 2019 and most felt he would never again get an opportunity to play in the Australia whites, as the middle order looks settled thanks to Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and Head all doing well and consolidating their places.
Even though Khawaja made his debut in 2011, his first Test century only came in 2015 and he is just one of 10 players to score 10 Test hundreds in six years — that too after missing 30 matches Australia played in this period.
I witnessed his greatest Test century at Dubai Cricket Stadium, when he scored a match-saving 141 against Pakistan spinners Bilal Asif, Yasir Shah and Mohammed Hafiz in 2018, which won him the Man of the Match award for his extraordinary effort.
He has admitted he expects to be dropped for the last Ashes Test as Head returns. He is gracious and realistic enough to convey that — despite scoring twin centuries in the fourth Test — he respects whatever decision the Australia selectors take. Hobart awaits and we will see, even if the great Shane Warne tweeted that Khawaja is now undroppable.