Usman Khawaja: Hold the Applause

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Plaudits have been plentiful for the performance of test debutant Usman Khawaja yesterday. One of the very few Australian batsmen (the first since Justin Langer in 1992) to make his debut at number three, Khawaja did look fairly solid and seemed to have a good temperate. However, with a score of merely 37, it shows the state of Australian cricket that he is already being heralded as the next big thing. He should, of course, be congratulated for making a fairly decent score, but it is worthwhile noting that not so long ago a debut score in the thirties would not have been met with such celebration.

Khawaja’s innings was certainly assured and his media performances, so important these days, are also impressive. However, an appetite for new talent has resulted in the Australian media looking upon Khawaja with rose coloured glasses. In his innings, Khawaja was on 15 after only ten deliveries, but ended up on 37 off 95. This can be read as a player settling down into his innings, and there was certainly an element of this, however Khawaja’s slow pace put pressure on his captain, and Michael Clarke duly fell for an overly attacking shot. Furthermore, quite a few of Khawaja’s runs came from questionable shots. His pull for four looked good, but fell dangerously close to the fielder at a time that Australia could ill afford to lose another wicket. He then slashed wildly for four again over point.

Then, on the verge of a rainstorm that ultimately led to the conclusion of play, he lent down for a premeditated sweep against Graeme Swann and was caught off the top edge at square leg. It was a bizarre shot against Swann who was in his first over, and is well known for getting wickets at the start of a spell. Khawaja walked off the field to thunderous applause and wisely refused to acknowledge the crowd. He, we hope, realised that his innings, whilst promising, was not worthy of such applause.

In no way is this article meant as some lead balloon. Khawaja is an exiting prospect, and his inclusion in the team is welcome. But the media and public alike need to take a step back, judge the innings as what it was, and just let a talented young player develop without the ridiculous expectations already being heaped upon him. Khawaja was lauded for his calm temperate against England yesterday, for him to be truly successful he’ll have to keep this resolve when dealing with an over-zealous Australian cricketing community.

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