Usman Khawaja wins the chance to follow Chris Rogers’ path

When Usman Khawaja treated a legion of fans to a stylish dance during the fourth night session of December’s Adelaide Test, perhaps no Australian cricketer had shown such polished moves since Chris Rogers after the bleaching of ashes 2013-14.

The silky, impromptu stepping is one of the few similarities that can be drawn between the two men. One, after all, was born in St George, in southern Sydney, and the other in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.

But when Khawaja ties up his pads and heads for the middle of Hobart’s Bellerive Oval in the final Ashes Test, the stylish southpaw will have his chance to carve out a place at the top of the Aussie order at the age of 35 years. Just like Rogers did in 2013.

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Khawaja’s potential was boundless when a baby-faced 24-year-old rocketed through the Sydney cricket midfield on his Test debut. He was a youngster who had compiled 598 Sheffield Shield runs under 75 up to this point in the summer, including a 214 hit. He had also been rocketed into Australia’s XI to fill the void at the first fall of none other than Ricky. Ponting, who had been shot by a broken finger. Khawaja went wild against England in January 2011 and, despite only managing scores of 37 and 21, his composure and finesse at the crease left a striking impression.

He was a radically transformed Khawaja who took off from twin centuries when his Test career returned to the place of his creation earlier this month. While Steve Smith and the late Phillip Hughes were Khawaja’s only younger teammates when he was first tested, only David Warner was older when he returned to the XI in Sydney for his 45th birthday.e appearance. Khawaja took a stand for Australia’s national anthem not as a rising prospect with unbridled potential, but as a veteran who, following Travis Head’s positive COVID-19 test, received an unexpected callback less than a month later. sound 35e birthday. Nic Maddinson had been added to the Australian squad as a cover, but managers backed Khawaja as a stopgap. A weathered cricketer who selectors had forced out of the squad on numerous occasions, most recently after the 2019 Ashes Leeds Test, was back in the fold.

The cricketing world is thirsty for more Khawaja after his 45 outings to the baggy green – and not just because of the stop-start run of his career, but the splendid aesthetic of his strokeplay. Among his sparkling array of hits, shots, sweeps, reverse sweeps and cuts last week was a tricky late cut for four from bowling by Stuart Broad, the seasoned first-class campaigner guiding a borderline delivery of fine leg just after hitting 50 in his second dig. It was sublime. Eleven years after shooting Chris Tremlett for four in glorious fashion on second ball in his first Test innings, Khawaja’s beautiful batsman was on display again. David Gower, Mark Waugh and Damien Martyn had graced bygone eras with crease poetry, and Khawaja, first with a Gray-Nicolls and now a DSC, followed in the same vein.

Khawaja hits twin centuries SCG

The coaches’ decision to recall Head for the Hobart Test at the expense of beleaguered fly-half Marcus Harris gave Khawaja a chance to reinvent themselves. Completing his mercurial Test career with hundreds of twins would have made for an incredible ending, but he now has a chance to establish himself as a mainstay in Australia’s XI, redirecting his journey like Rogers.

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For many years, it appeared that Rogers would retire as a member of the One-Test club, having replaced injured Matthew Hayden at WACA in 2008 before losing repeatedly to several other opening candidates, including Phil Jacques, Simon Katich, Hughes. , Shane Watson and Ed Cowan.

But the burly southpaw found a place in Australia’s XI at the age of 35 and seized his chance with emphatic style. Between the ages of 35 and 37, he had 1,996 runs at 44.35, including five centuries and a best score of 173. No player from Australia or England had more runs on the 10 Ashes Tests of 2013 and 2014 than Rogers.

Will Pucovski, Henry Hunt, Bryce Street and Tim Ward are among those who could carve out a place at the top of the Australian command in the near future, but it is Khawaja who will join Warner in the middle in Hobart.

Like Rogers, he could lock this spot down for two years in the second half of his 30s, starting with the final test from the ashes and continuing with 2022 visits to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India. A return to Australia for another summer at home is on schedule, before Pat Cummins’ men embark on their Ashes 2023 tour of England.

Khawaja, now in the finest touch of his life, could end his Test career as a stable player at the top of the Aussie order.

A golden chance, offered to him after a golden return to the testing scene, awaits him.

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