Usman Khawaja is a household name in Australian cricket, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get starstruck.
Khawaja has insisted his preparation for this Test summer that has seen him bat at No.4 for the Bulls to accommodate regular openers Joe Burns and Matthew Renshaw, even though he opens for the Test side, was not an issue.
The left-hander looked every bit the opener as the Windies nipped the ball around during the first two sessions, requiring Khawaja to draw on his judgment.
“It feels like I’ve batted against the new ball for my entire career,” he said. “I opened the batting in grade cricket, I opened in all white-ball forms and I’ve batted three for my entire first-class career until the last few years.
“And when you bat three…I’m coming in at 1.3 overs or 4.5 overs a lot of times. You’re coming in early, it’s pretty much like opening.
“I’ve faced the new ball my entire career so it doesn’t feel too different.
“If you bat one, two or three, it’s very similar. If you’re in the top order it’s going to be tough work (against the) new ball, it’s going to seam around.
“You need a good technique, you need to be able to leave well and pounce when you get an opportunity to score runs. Davey Warner has done that for a long time, any opener who has been successful over a long period has those fundamentals.
“In Australia, I think by far the top three is the hardest place to bat. If you make runs there, you’ve earnt it.”
The Australian opener will have been disappointed after being dismissed for 65 on Day 1, but he was in good spirits after a chat with former West Indies skipper Carl Hooper.
“I’m a bit star-struck, that’s Carl Hooper!” Khawaja told ABC Sport.
“I used to watch you all the time as a kid. Coolest man in cricket.”
Uzzy… Star struck? 🤩🏏
Turns out, no matter how big your name is, you can still be overwhelmed when you meet your idols.
— ABC SPORT (@abcsport) November 30, 2022
Khawaja’s red-hot form should see him tip over the 1,000-run mark in Tests for the 2022 calendar year in the coming weeks, or even days if he gets another bat in this match given he is now only 47 runs short.
He is essentially in a race with Joe Root (973 runs) to be the year’s leading batter given the man at the top of the charts currently, Jonny Bairstow on 1,061, will not feature again due to injury.