Uzzie does it the Khawaja way on his field of dreams

On a Gabba surface he knows better than most, Usman Khawaja’s experience and mentality again shone through

Khawaja defies Windies with gritty 75

Usman Khawaja leaned on his bat at the non-striker's end and watched the chaos unfold. Four of his teammates came and went inside the first five overs of the innings. A fifth was gone after lunch, just 54 runs on the board and a gargantuan deficit of 257 looming before them.

Experience though, is earned and invaluable and Khawaja, at 37, now has it in spades. In one guise or another, he has seen all this before. Particularly at the Gabba, where he has been based for more than a decade now, where he scored his maiden Test hundred in 2015, and where he knows perhaps better than anyone since Matthew Hayden how to go about constructing an innings.

While the ball colour was pink on this occasion, his response was a riff on a well-worn theme. Speaking with cricket.com.au before play, he talked about riding out the early swing and seam that would likely come with a hard new ball, and cashing in on that hard work later.

Asked the key to making runs at his home venue, he was concise.

"Discipline," he said. "It's always the same out here. Once the ball softens up, I think it's a very good batting wicket, but the first 20 overs are still going to be hard."

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Khawaja has eight hundreds and averages 51.26 in 27 first-class matches at the Gabba, which can be a treacherous Shield wicket. Marnus Labuschagne, by way of comparison, has three in 25 matches, and averages 40.25.

The veteran opener's 75 from 131 deliveries on day two provided Australia with a platform to get back into a contest that was slipping from their grasp. In that sense it wasn't dissimilar to his second-innings 65 at Edgbaston last year, where he dropped anchor, resolved to go deep, and allowed others to bat around him.

The left-hander's stunning late-career renaissance seems to be tied to playing this kind of role for the side. Khawaja has refined his game through that earned experience. He knows exactly how to, as Hayden puts it, 'swim between the flags', eschewing risk for occupation of the crease, then scoring more freely as balls soften and bowlers tire. It is a tried-and-true opening strategy, especially at the Gabba, where he has already scored two Sheffield Shield hundreds this summer.

Just a couple of years ago he scored 70 out of Queensland's first-innings 129 on a greentop here against Western Australia, riding out a furious onslaught from a four-pronged pace attack that included Jhye Richardson and Lance Morris.

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National selectors didn't deem it enough to warrant an Ashes berth over Travis Head a couple of weeks later but by summer's end Khawaja had returned to the Test side, famously scoring twin tons in the New Year's Test in Sydney to begin this remarkable run.

From that match onwards, the reigning ICC Test Cricketer of the Year has piled on 2,466 runs in 27 Tests at 57.34, scoring seven of his 15 hundreds. Today he went past Michael Slater and Ian Chappell on Australia's all-time Test runs list, at a superior average to both. Doug Walters is but a boundary away. 

"Super calm, super consistent, super patient" was how Alex Carey described Khawaja after play. "On a tricky wicket to start off with he played the line of the ball really well, and just jumped on what he could."

It has become the Khawaja way.

NRMA Insurance Test series v West Indies

First Test: Australia won by 10 wickets

Second Test: January 25-29, Gabba (3pm AEDT)

Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc

West Indies Test squad: Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Alzarri Joseph (vc), Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Kirk McKenzie, Alick Athanaze, Kavem Hodge, Justin Greaves, Joshua Da Silva, Akeem Jordan, Gudakesh Motie, Kemar Roach, Kevin Sinclair, Tevin Imlach, Shamar Joseph, Zachary McCaskie