USMAN Khawaja’s decision to play county cricket in England could reap an unexpected spinoff during the coming tour of the subcontinent.
The elegant left-hander has little experience batting in India but last winter he was given an taste of what might be ahead in Derby in England’s East Midlands.
For the past two off-seasons Khawaja has kept his eye in playing with Derbyshire in England, where the wickets are traditionally seam-friendly rather than conducive to spin, although not so last year.
”We had wickets in England, especially Derby, which threw up some challenges against spin,” Khawaja said. Judging by his numbers for Derbyshire last year – 537 runs at nearly 49 – he passed with distinction.
The four-Test series against M. S. Dhoni’s team will be the first time Khawaja, 26, has played in India since touring with Australia’s under-19 side for a limited-overs tour.
But he is no stranger to spin-friendly wickets, having cut his teeth as a first-class player on the SCG when its ”dry and barren pitches” resembled many subcontinental pitches.
Out of necessity, he played the sweep shot, a stroke that Ed Cowan and Phillip Hughes have been practising for the series.
”I’ve always found the sweep quite natural for me,” said Khawaja, who averages nearly 50 in first-class matches at the SCG.
”But the sweep shot is not the be-all and end-all of doing well over there either.”
Khawaja’s last tour of the subcontinent, against Sri Lanka, ended with him being dropped, some could say unluckily, after making 21 and 26 in difficult conditions in the first Test and being deprived of chances in the second.
Khawaja had been earmarked to leave early for India but may now be required for Australia’s ODI campaign against the West Indies after David Warner’s thumb fracture.
”I’d love to play for Australia in the one-dayers but there’s a big Test series coming up, too,” Khawaja said.
”They’re very different conditions to what we have here so a bit of exposure over there wouldn’t hurt either.”
Khawaja is considered the next batsman in line for the Test side but could miss out if selectors decide to pick an all-rounder, either Glenn Maxwell or Moises Henriques, instead of a specialist batsman to replace the retired Michael Hussey.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.