Domain Tests v India
Khawaja on track for first Test
Left-hander ahead of schedule in recovery from knee surgery; eyeing off return to one-day side for World Cup
Adam Burnett in Brisbane
8 November 2018, 12:41 PM AEST
A slimmed-down Usman Khawaja is ahead of schedule in his comeback from knee surgery and is targeting not only the start of the upcoming Domain Test series against India, but also next year's ICC World Cup in England.
Khawaja suffered a meniscal tear in his left knee in a training mishap during the second Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi last month and took no further part in the match.
There were initial fears that the injury could rule him out of the first of four Tests against India, starting in Adelaide on December 6, but the left-hander is already back running having undergone surgery on October 23.
The 31-year has cited his improved fitness as a reason for his swift recovery.
"I'm 10 kilograms lighter than I was in South Africa maybe seven months ago, so I'm sure that helps the knees in some respects," he said in Brisbane today.
"My recovery is going really well so far. I'm trying to keep it cool, but it's actually going really well.
"I feel like I'm a little bit ahead of where I should be. If I keep doing the little things right – looking after my body, being disciplined – hopefully that'll transition to me coming back in time."
Khawaja is a chance to play in Queensland's JLT Sheffield Shield match against Victoria starting on November 27, while the Toyota Futures League and Brisbane's Premier (club) Cricket competition are also options for him to spend time in the middle ahead of the first Test.
Khawaja had earmarked the ongoing Gillette ODI series against South Africa as a chance to push for a recall to Australia's 50-over side, but injury has put paid to that plan.
He hasn't played a single ODI during Australia's lean streak of 17 losses from their past 19 matches, and in a team crying out for experience and some cool heads, the Queensland captain could come into calculations in the new year when Australia face India at home.
The classy top-order player has only played 17 ODIs across almost six years, with his only extended sequence of matches being a six-innings stretch during a tri-series in the Caribbean in 2016, where he averaged 36.17 with a pair of fifties, including his highest score of 98.
At List A level, he averages an outstanding 45.76 with 10 hundreds.
"The (ODI) team (to play the Proteas) hadn't been picked when I got injured, but I felt like I was putting my hand up and I really wanted to get amongst it if selected and play some one-day cricket," Khawaja said.
"Targeting that World Cup is a big thing, it's one of my major goals – playing in that World Cup or at least being part of that squad.
"I was pretty down (about the injury), and that was one of the major reasons. But my wife Rachel put it into perspective – she said there's plenty more opportunities coming.
"It's one of my major goals, to get back in the one-day side. I've had chats to Justin (Langer) about it, and he knows where I'm at with it.
"I've obviously done very well in one-day cricket over the years in state cricket for Queensland and whoever I've played with, so I'm confident I could do well in the one-day team.
"But at the end of the day it's all about performances. Hopefully when I'm right and everything's going well, I can put the performances up. But the guys in the one-day side are very good players – I have no doubt they'll come back strong."
Australia play the second ODI of a three-match series against the Proteas on Friday at Adelaide Oval.
India Tour of Australia 2018-19
Gillette T20s v India
November 21: The Gabba
November 23: MCG
November 25: SCG
Domain Tests v India
December 6-10: Adelaide Oval
December 14-18: Perth Stadium
December 26-30: MCG
January 3-7: SCG
Gillette ODI Series v India
January 12: SCG (D/N)
January 15: Adelaide Oval (D/N)
January 18: MCG (D/N)