Ricky Ponting has given Usman Khawaja a ringing endorsement ahead of the 2021/22 Ashes, calling him one of their “best six batsmen from the moment he started playing for Australia”.
“I still think Khawaja is in our top six batsmen in the country,” Ponting said on the latest episode of The Grade Cricketer podcast, adding, “I think he has been in our best six batsmen from the moment he started playing for Australia” when asked if he’d have Khawaja in his top six for the Ashes.
Included in the 15-member squad for the first two Tests, Khawaja hasn’t played for Australia since he was dropped midway through the 2019 Ashes, having not crossed a fifty in the six innings he had played until then in the series.
Khawaja’s lopsided home versus overseas record has been a subject of debate for long – he averages 50.46 in Australia, which drops down considerably to 24.36 in away Tests.
With Matthew Wade overlooked, a middle-order spot is up for grabs, making it a two-way contest between two left-handers, Khawaja and Travis Head. Khawaja has been fine form in the ongoing Sheffield Shield, averaging 67.33 from four games so far.
“I don’t think he should have gone out of the team, to be honest,” Ponting said. “Because the guys that they’ve brought in after that haven’t looked anywhere near as accomplished at Test level as what Khawaja did. I know Khawaja’s away record was nowhere near as good as his record at home, but if you have somebody who can average 60 or 70 in Australia, they’ll work it out eventually in different parts of the world.
“So, look, I won’t be surprised if they go back to him in the summer.”
The complete Ashes 2021/22 schedule can be found here.