Usman Khawaja has had seven full months to contemplate this bizarre existence, as he’s patiently waited out an extraordinary exile from the crease dating back to January 22, reports Dailytelegraph.com.au.
The consistently best performed Australian batsman of the past few years behind Steven Smith and David Warner and one of the top 15 run-scorers in world cricket has not faced a ball in anger, or despair, since a one-dayer against Pakistan at the SCG 210 days ago.
In the modern era of packed schedules, it’s incredible that a player of Khawaja’s class hasn’t been able to find a game somewhere, anywhere in this span of time. Last week’s intra-squad scratch match in Darwin was the first time he’d had a hit outside the nets since the home summer, and he made just eight runs across two innings.
If Bangladesh’s notorious monsoon season allows it, Khawaja will be back at No 3 for Australia next week.
Khawaja admits his younger self may have crumbled under the weight of frustration, but now the long-night finally appears to be over, the 30-year-old insists he has nothing to prove.
He came under fire last year when he admitted to feeling like a “scapegoat” when dropped in Sri Lanka after just two Tests.
But armed with more self-reflection and perspective than most, Khawaja refuses to cave into self-pity and makes it clear his return is just business as usual.
“I’m not going to make it all about me and I never like playing cricket that way. (Proving myself) is the furthest thing from my mind,” Khawaja told The Sunday Telegraph.
“It should feel like a long time (between matches), but it actually doesn’t. I don’t know why.
“It can be pretty tough (mentally). I’m glad it’s happened now and didn’t happen about eight years ago.
“It was frustrating at the end of India because I was there for so long. But by the time I came home it was just nice to be home, sleeping in my own bed and training back in Brisbane.”
Overall, Khawaja has scored 1349 runs in the past two years with five centuries, putting him on par with anyone in world cricket, even though he has played at least five Tests less in that period than most.
“It’s frustrating (the perception) but it’s hard because I haven’t really got to play on (spinning decks) much and even training in the nets you can only do so much,” he said.
“At the end of the day it’s not easy for any Australian going over there because very uncommon for us to play in those conditions. You see the guys who have been there a lot like Smudger (Smith) who obviously does very well there. The more you play on them the better you get.”