In January, Australia rested Usman Khawaja from the Chappell-Hadlee ODI series in New Zealand and chose instead to send him to Dubai to prepare for the Border-Gavaskar Test series in India. Khawaja, in the end, sat out all four Tests in India, with the selectors preferring Shaun Marsh in his middle-order role.
Khawaja, who has not found a place in Australia’s 15-man squad for the Champions Trophy, has spoken of his frustration at missing the ODIs in New Zealand.
“Maybe when I was younger I would have been frustrated [at missing out on the Tests in India],” Khawaja told foxsports.com.au. “In saying that obviously I would have loved to play in that Test series, [and] when I didn’t get to play in that first Test I was a bit frustrated.
“I sort of had an idea I was not going to play in that first Test after I didn’t get a run during the tour match. We played brilliant in that first Test match and we won. I was frustrated at the time, not so much because I didn’t play in that Test match — I understand the selectors, Boof [coach Darren Lehmann] and picking the best team and what was going on and I just want Australia to win.
“The most frustrating thing for me was not to play those three ODIs in New Zealand. Getting pulled out from them to come to Dubai to prepare for 10 days and then not play the first Test. So I actually miss out on the one-day matches for Australia. For me that was the tough part.
“I got pulled out of that series to prepare for India and then not playing was a bit hard.”
Khawaja said he felt better after discussing his situation with Lehmann.
“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, not being able to play the ODIs and come early to India, he knew exactly where I was coming from,” Khawaja said.
“Once I chatted out to him it helped me quite a bit. He has seen it all, he has seen the ups and downs so after I had that discussion with him I was fine. I was just like ‘there are few more ODIs coming up that I can look forward to’. After that chat I was fine and just trying to do the best for the team and be ready in case the opportunity did come up.”
An ordinary record in Asian conditions may have hurt Khawaja’s case in the head-to-head against Marsh. Before the India tour, Khawaja had scored 115 runs at 19.16 in four Tests in Asia, and 389 runs at 32.41 in nine first-class matches. Marsh, on the other hand, was seen as a subcontinent specialist, having scored two hundreds in three Tests there, all in Sri Lanka.
“It is tough one because the way I look at it was Reny [Matt Renshaw] and [David] Warner were going to open, [captain Steve Smith] was going to play, Petey [Handscomb] was going to play, it was probably going to be between me and Shaun Marsh and he got hundred in…