Usman Khawaja scores half-century for Qld against SA as Ashes battle hots up

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Travis Head looked to be winning the race for the final spot in the Aussie batting order, but Usman Khawaja wasn’t going down without a fight.

Usman Khawaja insists he would have “no issue” if Travis Head were to win the nailbiting race for the final spot in the Ashes batting order.

Both men are vying to bat fifth against England this summer and both had their last chances to impress selectors at first class level in Queensland’s Sheffield Shield clash with South Australia this week.

Khawaja put his team before his Test aspirations when he forced South Australia to follow on on day three, knowing full well that he’d be gifting Head another chance to impress with the willow.

In making the call, Khawaja looked to be forfeiting his chance to bat again, given Queensland would likely reach South Australia’s target with ease.

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As Head affirmed his Test credentials by stroking his way to a classy century on day three, Khawaja might’ve felt his own Ashes hopes slipping through his fingers.

But the cricket gods were clearly smiling down on Khawaja after his selfless captain’s call.

When the Bulls lost two quick wickets within the first seven overs on the final day, Khawaja was called in for a longer spell at the crease than what most would’ve seen coming.

The veteran had one last chance to flex his muscles before the Ashes, and boy did he take it.

Khawaja must’ve made lunch reservations because he batted like a man with somewhere to be.

Queensland was never going to have any trouble making the 83 runs required on day four, but Khawaja made the task look like child’s play, belting 10 boundaries on his way to a half-century from just 35 deliveries.

Appropriately, it was the skipper who hit Lloyd Pope to point for the final run that Queensland needed in its chase.

With both Head and Khawaja putting forward compelling cases for selection, Aussie selectors now have an agonising call to make ahead of the first Ashes Test, which begins on December 9.

But Khawaja says he hasn’t even been entertaining the thought of breaking his two-year Test drought and insists there’d be no bad blood if Head pipped him to the post.

“I’m going to be 100 per cent honest, it’s not even on my mind right now. I’m honestly just trying to win the game for Queensland and whatever will be, will be,” he said at stumps on the final day.

“‘Heady’ deserves it as much as I do. I’m really good mates with him. I’ve got no issue with whatever happens. I’m sure the selectors will do their thing and we’ll go from there.”

Khawaja said he owed it to himself not to become preoccupied with his future in the baggy green.

“I’ve just come to realise after a long time and a lot of work with myself and my mind and being introspective and just learning about myself that (focusing on playing Test cricket) just doesn’t help,” he said.

“I know I play best when I’m relaxed.

“To be honest, I’ve got a lot of things in life that I’m very grateful for. Those are the things now that I focus on.”

Originally published as Usman Khawaja scores half-century for Qld against SA as Ashes battle hots up



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