Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Shane Watson has urged Australia to pick batsman Usman Khawaja and give him an opportunity to shine over a lengthy period of time.
Watson’s comments come after Khawaja has excelled in Australia A’s ongoing tour of India, where he scored an unbeaten 101 against India B in a List A match before following it up with a 127 in the first four-day match against India A.
With Australia’s series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates coming up, and the Baggy Greens not having the services of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft as they are still serving their suspensions for the ball tampering scandal earlier this year, Watson is hoping that Khawaja “gets a really good run”.
“I hope Uzzie gets a really good run,” Watson told cricket.com.au as quoted by the International Cricket Council’s website. “He just needs have the confidence instilled in him by the selectors and by the coaching staff, to let him play with the freedom he does when he’s at his best. We don’t have a lot of world-class batsmen at the moment around Australian cricket and he’s absolutely one.
“But when he’s not getting selected all the time, he’s worried about failing. Then you can see him going into his shell and that’s not when he’s at his best. When he is at his best he’s one of the best ones we’ve got.
“So they need to look after him. If they keep playing him for one or two Test matches and then dropping him, that’s not getting the best out of him.”
Watson urged the selectors to adopt the same mentality with all the players.
Delving deeper into why he feels this should be done, the former Australia all-rounder said: “When you’re not performing in any walk of life, then you can sense when the heat is starting to come on.
“The biggest challenge, mentally, is not letting that infiltrate when you’re playing at your best. Because when you’re playing at your best, you’re not thinking about needing to score runs, you’re thinking about how and where I am going to score my runs.
“That’s where they need to get back to in Australian cricket. Give them the confidence that they have got time, they can play their natural game, not play someone in one Test match and then drop them.”
Watson added that dropping players who don’t perform over a short period of time is not only detrimental to the players themselves, but also the entire team and those who are called up as replacements.
“It’s not just the player that gets dropped,” he said. “The other players around then go ‘if they can drop him that quick, I better score runs’. And then the person coming in would be thinking ‘if I don’t score runs in this first game, then I might be out as well’.”