Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Derbyshire sign Usman Khawaja

While dozens of names have been banded about this winter, that of Usman Khawaja, who has joined Derbyshire from the start of the season until the end of the T20, was seldom seen among them.

Having said that, anyone who is in any doubt as to the talents of this young Australian of Pakistani descent should have a look at this footage of his first century for New South Wales against South Australia:

Without doubt, he is a batsman of the highest quality. You don't bypass the likes of Adam Voges, David Hussey and Shaun Marsh on your way into the Australian side without having something special. Like many Derbyshire players over the years who have struggled to get international recognition from an unfashionable county, Khawaja probably had to be even better than most to get into that side as a Muslim. He was, after all, setting a precedent after his country had played international cricket for well over a hundred years.

The first man of that faith to represent his country, Khawaja seems pleasant and articulate, well aware that a lot rides on his shoulders. After 46 first class innings he averages over 50 and has six centuries and ten fifties, a remarkable return for one finding his way in the game. See how he feels about his rapid elevation here:

It may be unrealistic to expect a young man encountering English conditions for the first time to maintain such a record. Bristol in April could be a challenge, but any failures won't be for the want of trying. Reports suggest him a dedicated young professional of admirable discipline and he bats with a flowing style harnessed to a sound technique. He plays straight too, which always gives you a chance, especially in England. He may not be as prolific as the vastly more experienced Chris Rogers, but he could just surprise a few people. Write him off at your peril.

Be honest. Can't you just imagine Khawaja in full flow in the T20? Such a sight should surely fill a few more seats than last year and while he perhaps lacks the explosive style of Loots Bosman, that sound technique and wide range of shots should see him more productive.

I'm thrilled with the signing. Suggestions of established stars were always unrealistic given our resources and the riches available to them elsewhere. As I've said for months, our target market was always going to be in the next (still very good) tier down. That being the case, we've signed someone near the top of that tier, his country's best (by general acclaim) young batsman. You can't do much better than that my friends.Whatever runs he makes in 2011, I hope I'm around to see some of them. From what I've seen, satisfaction is pretty much guaranteed.

I'm thrilled that despite the current economic climate John Morris has managed to attract one of the brightest young talents in the world game. If you're still not convinced, listen to what Ian Chappell says about him here - the section on Khawaja starts at 1'57

Whether he opens the batting or goes in at three or four will be down to John Morris, but I have every confidence that this young player will come with a steely determination to do well and repay the faith shown in him by Derbyshire. Who knows, his appearance may even attract the Muslim community, keen to see a young player of talent who has made it to the top in another country.

In short? A young player that people are talking about is coming to play for US. Full credit to Morris and anyone else who facilitated this one. Derbyshire fans have now got an early chance to see a player who could go on to grace the game for a long time. Chesney and Usman in full flow on a sunny afternoon would be worth travelling a long way to see.

A thumbs up from me. Roll on April.


Chris said...

Absolutely stunned. Amazing signing

Anonymous said...

Good signing. Not sure who will open for us though in the championship as Usman bats at 3.

Martin Edwards said...

A terrific coup for Derbyshire to sign a player of this quality and potential.

Anonymous said...

Great signing for derby as he is a talented player... However i dont think Derby have limited batting resources there PROBLEMS lie in their bowling department.. So why not SIGN a bowler who is going to take wickets..

just a thought!

Peakfan said...

No decent bowlers were available is the answer. Certainly not at prices we could afford