A more attacking approach is paying off as Usman Khawaja stakes his claim for an Australian Test team recall, according to current and former teammates.
The 25-year-old Khawaja gets his last real chance to ensure Ricky Ponting’s Test retirement becomes his ticket back into the Australian team for the Sri Lanka series when he captains the Chairman’s XI against the tourists in a three-day match in Canberra this week.
He has already impressed with his stroke play on his way to being the third-highest run scorer in the Sheffield Shield with 752 runs in his first season since moving north from NSW to Queensland.
Former NSW teammate Ben Rohrer noticed the difference as Khawaja hit a match-winning 85 for the Bulls against the Blues in Sunday’s one-day clash in Canberra.
“Uzzy’s a class player and we know that from having him around here for the last five or six years,” Rohrer said.
“He showed again how good he is. He looked really positive in the one-day game.
“He’s backing himself and he’s a lot more aggressive than I’ve seen him,” said Rohrer who batted alongside Khawaja when the latter posted a career-best first-class score of 214 in Adelaide two years ago.
“So I think it (the move north) is paying dividends for him.
“Maybe it’s the change of scenery, or maybe a change of attitude. I don’t know, but he’s going well.”
The most recent of Khawaja’s six Tests came in Hobart against New Zealand in 2011 and according to Queensland fast bowler Ben Cutting, the left-hander has advanced his game significantly since joining the Bulls. .
“I’ve known Uzzy for years and years now,” Cutting said.
“I played under-19s with him, so it’s been great watching him grow from the NSW ranks and then coming up to Queensland.
“He’s definitely playing with a lot more confidence.
“He’s backing himself with some of his big strokes and you see that’s coming off for him.
“He’s got plenty of runs in the first half of the year in both formats.”