Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann believes middle-order batsman Usman Khawaja should take some time off from international cricket and play in the Sheffield Shield to regain his form prior to the Ashes 2019.
The southpaw suffered another failure in the second Test against Sri Lanka, getting dismissed for a third-ball duck in Canberra. Khawaja has registered only one fifty-plus score in the 11 innings since his match-saving effort against Pakistan in Dubai.
“The way he got out, was very unlike Usman Khawaja, it was a lazy shot. He’s not like that, he’s a better player than that," Lehmann told Macquarie Sports Radio. “He’s just looking a bit flat when he plays. He’s not as sharp early on as he was say in Perth, when he got his highest score of the summer. He got the 70, looked sharp and ready to score. He’s a better player than he has shown, we know."
Lehmann suggested that Khawaja needs to let go of a few ODI chances to better his chances of cementing a position in the Test side.
“If I’m fair dinkum about batting him three in the Ashes, I don’t think you can take him to the one-day series against India and Pakistan. I think he’s got to play the four Shield games at the back end with the Dukes ball and get some form, and it’s one for the selectors to mull over."
Lehmann further added that Khawaja’s family issues - his brother getting arrested in December - could also be playing a part for his poor showing.
“The family issues certainly would’ve affected him, there’s no doubt about that. When you’ve got issues going on with your loved ones, cricket takes second string. We’re only playing a game," he said.