It has been quite heartening today to read the positive comments around the web about the signing of Usman Khawaja from New South Wales. Gratifyingly for all concerned it has captured the imagination of most, something that will hopefully be translated into positive action at the gates of grounds.
John Morris told how he moved quickly as soon as Khawaja was capped by his country in an article in this morning’s Derby Telegraph, which you can see here:
Of course, we shouldn’t pile too much pressure on a young man who will be experiencing his first taste of overseas pitches. The history of the game is littered with examples of young players who struggled to come to terms with our conditions initially. Greg Chappell had early struggles at Somerset, as did Barry Richards at Hampshire. Michael Slater, from the same state, never really came to terms with the conditions, although the technique of Khawaja appears more a foundation for success than did his earlier compatriot’s.
A thing that should work for him is what appears to be a love of batting. One sensed an edginess in Slater if the scoreboard wasn’t moving and teams quickly learned that if they cut off his profitable areas he would lose patience. While a batsman of flair and talent, Slats watching was regularly a frustration as he gave away promising starts.
In comparison Khawaja seems to have realised fairly early in his career, despite a love of playing his shots, that you can’t get runs in the pavilion. There’s an interesting comparator with Dan Redfern, who has played five more first class innings and scored around 800 runs less. While Redfern, a young player I rate very highly, has made eight half centuries thus far, Khawaja in just 46 innings has made ten and converted another six into centuries, one of them a double. The four years difference in age is a factor though, both physically and mentally.
There’s a nice piece from a recent Daily Telegraph on Khawaja, a qualified pilot, which is worth a read:
So there’ll be no bullish claims that Khawaja will ‘score a bucket load’ from me. We’ll need to see how he adapts to a new environment and alien conditions before it is fair to do that sort of thing. But all things considered, John Morris has done an astute bit of work on this one. If it doesn’t come off it shouldn’t detract from the good intention.
If it does, it may well turn out to be a bit special and well worth a watch.