Usman Khawaja has posted another Sheffield Shield century for Queensland, further enhancing his compelling case for a men’s Ashes recall.
- Khawaja scored 119 for Queensland against Tasmania
- He is averaging above 80 runs so far this Sheffield Shield season
- However, he has not played in a Test since 2019
Khawaja departed for 119 in the shadows of lunch on day two of Queensland’s match against Tasmania in Townsville.
Queensland declared at 6-487 in Thursday’s post-lunch session, having seized control after Marnus Labuschagne’s 136 on day one.
Former Test opener Matthew Renshaw finished 120 not out, also enjoying a productive stint at the crease for Queensland.
Tasmania reached 4-150 at stumps in response, with Jordan Silk (45 not out) and Beau Webster (20 not out) tasked with a big rescue mission to get the visitors back in the contest.
Khawaja has scored 326 runs, at an average of 81.50, in four innings so far this Sheffield Shield season, with his tally including two centuries.
He has not played for Australia since being axed during the 2019 men’s Ashes series, but the 34-year-old’s recent form — coupled with his versatility and experience — will ensure he is part of national selectors’ thoughts in coming weeks.
Labuschagne, Steve Smith and David Warner are automatic selections for the first Test, which starts on December 8, while all-rounder Cameron Green is expected to be retained in Australia’s XI.
Green made 61 for Western Australia on day two of its Sheffield Shield match against South Australia at the WACA ground in Perth.
There is no shortage of conjecture about the other two spots in the top six.
Will Pucovski was expected to open in the first Test, but the Victorian prodigy remains on the sidelines because of his 10th concussion.
Khawaja averages almost 100 in seven Test innings as an opener, underlining his case for partnering Warner at the Gabba.
Victoria seizes control
Incumbent Test opener Marcus Harris has a golden chance to bolster his bid for Ashes selection when Victoria attempts to bat New South Wales out of their topsy-turvy Sheffield Shield contest.
Victoria will resume at 1-75 on day three at Sydney’s Drummoyne Oval, holding a 123-run lead.
Harris and captain Peter Handscomb — unbeaten on 41 and 26 respectively in Victoria’s second innings — will be at the crease.
They have already put on 53 runs for the second wicket.
Victorian teammate Scott Boland said he was confident that Harris and Handscomb could continue to build their partnership on day three.
“Hopefully, tomorrow we can really do the same thing and try to get a really big lead,” he said.
Victoria had dismissed New South Wales for 151 in its first innings earlier on day two.
Boland did the bulk of the damage, finishing with a haul of 4-34 after cleaning up the tail and capturing the key scalp of New South Wales captain Kurtis Patterson for 48.
Victoria had appeared to be on the back foot on day one after being dismissed for 199 in its first innings.