Sydney: Usman Khawaja says he is desperate to emerge from the periphery and consolidate a regular spot in the Australian team for this year's Ashes series against England. The Pakistan-born batsman, 26, who made his Test debut almost 18 months ago but has only played in six Tests, is looking to the July-August series in England to finally confirm himself as a top-notch batsman.
"I've done a lot of hard work to get where I am. All I can do is go out there and prove myself on the field," he told The Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday. "All we're thinking about right now is getting those Ashes back. I know if I can contribute to that then I can get a bit more comfortable where I am in international cricket." Khawaja said he was aware of a belief held by some within Australia's management that his attitude needs improving.
Khawaja was one of four players controversially stood down for a Test in India last March during a 4-0 series loss for what Australia coach Mickey Arthur said at the time was an unacceptable team culture. "I was disappointed, a bit frustrated, a bit angry, but I'm just grateful to be on this Ashes tour," said the left-hander, who added that he worked as hard as anyone on his game. "I don't think you can get to state level, or even playing for Australia for that fact, without working hard. I think it's impossible."
Khawaja said his laconic manner may give the impression that he was uncaring, but that was not the case. "What's going on on the exterior is not always what's happening on the interior for me," he said. "I might look very calm or whatnot when I'm batting, but it's funny because sometimes in my head things are happening a lot quicker than what's happening on the outside.
"All I care about is my teammates and what captain Michael Clarke and the coach think and they've never said anything of that sort."