Pakistan v Australia Test - Men's
Khawaja's empathy for dumped duo
Queensland captain goes into bat for state teammate Burns and axed Victorian Handscomb
12 September 2018, 06:34 AM AEST
Test batsman Usman Khawaja has expressed his empathy for dumped pair Joe Burns and Peter Handscomb after Australia's squad for next month's two-match series against Pakistan was announced on Tuesday.
Burns, who returned to the Test XI for the fourth Test against South Africa following the ball-tampering scandal in March, was omitted from the Australia A squad for the India A series that wraps up in Bengaluru today.
"I spoke a little bit with the selectors after the South African series, and everything was really positive there," Burns told cricket.com.au last month.
"I guess as a player all you can really do is trust that and prepare accordingly."
The right-hander has hit 106 and 65 for Norths in Brisbane to open the Premier Cricket season and averaged 55.76 in last summer's Sheffield Shield, with two centuries and three fifties, before a groin injury interrupted his strong run of form.
"I don't think I've hit the ball as good in my career as I did last season," the 29-year-old told cricket.com.au last month.
"So when you're hitting the ball like that you want to be playing as much as possible.
"When I got back on the field for the last Shield game, then the (Shield) final and the Test match … I was basically on one leg.
"Going forward I'm hoping I can get that continuity and, with a few more opportunities now, an extended run at it."
Burns' Test record in the subcontinent may have counted against him, albeit from a very small sample size: in four innings in Sri Lanka in 2016, he made 34 runs before being dropped for the third Test. In his only other two first-class matches on the subcontinent, against India A and a Sri Lankan XI, he has made eight and 72 respectively.
"Look, it's always hard to know what's going on with selections," said Khawaja. "It's a job that I probably wouldn't want to have.
"I'm probably a bit biased but I feel a bit for Burnsy, too. He's been scoring well for Queensland.
"Obviously Finchy's been on fire over in England in the T20 stuff, and he's done really well in the Shield in the last couple of years.
"That's probably the toughest part of cricket, especially international cricket – selections.
"I feel a bit for Petey (Handscomb) too, he's not in the squad, and both played the last Test match.
"It's always tough, you get close to a couple of players, then things happen and they're not there, but I think everyone in the squad deserves their opportunity so it's all about us now trying to go out and play our best cricket."
National selector Trevor Hohns discussed the omission of Burns and Handscomb, as well as Glenn Maxwell, who was a Test squad member in South Africa and made a fine maiden Test hundred in India last year.
"Joe, Peter and Glenn were players we discussed when selecting the batting group, but we had to take into account the conditions and competition we are set to face in the upcoming series," Hohns said.
"All three remain on our radar for Test cricket, but we want them to perform for their states and continue to push their case ahead of what is going to be a big Australian summer."
Qantas Tour of the UAE
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
Sep 29 - Oct 2: Tour match v Pak A, Dubai
Oct 7-11: First Test, Dubai
Oct 16-20: Second Test, Abu Dhabi