Australia v West Indies Tests
Khawaja ruled out of Big Bash opener
Batsman's Boxing Day Test hopes suffer setback following injury update
14 December 2015, 12:13 PM AEST
Usman Khawaja will have to wait to press his claims for a Boxing Day recall after he was ruled out of Sydney Thunder's opening KFC Big Bash League match on Thursday.
The Thunder medical staff, in conjunction with Cricket Australia, have instead identified the December 20 clash against the Melbourne Stars at the MCG as Khawaja's likely return to cricket following a hamstring injury that forced him to miss Australia last two Tests.
Khawaja, who was included in Australia's 13-man squad for the Boxing Day Test against the West Indies, will now have only one innings to prove his fitness and form.
Bupa Support Staff Head Coach Darren Lehmann told cricket.com.au's Stumps show that Khawaja will only come into calculations if he is deemed fully fit.
"Usman's first got to be fit. If he's not fit he won't play, there's no doubt about that," Lehmann told Stumps.
"We've got to make sure he's playing BBL to get some sort of match fitness and see how the strain of the hamstring is and then when we get him in on the 23rd (December) we'll have a look at him and see whether he's available to play."
WATCH: Stumps with Patto and Boof
Khawaja's potential return also creates a selection headache for Lehmann and his fellow National Selection Panel members, given the strong form of Shaun Marsh – the man who originally came into the XI as Khawaja's replacement.
"We've got a dilemma," Lehmann admitted. "We've just got to pick the best team to win that particular game.
"If Usman is in then someone's got to miss out. If he's not in, then probably the same six (batsmen)."
Marsh's match-winning 49 in the Adelaide day-night Test and mammoth innings of 182 in Hobart, together with Khawaja's potential return, has put pressure on opening batsman Joe Burns.
Burns started the international summer in a blaze of glory, scoring 71 and 129 in Brisbane, but has since produced scores of 40, 0, 14, 11, 33 in his past five innings.
If Burns makes way for Khawaja, Lehmann says the latter could slot straight in at the top of the order.
"I would - but the captain might not want that," said Lehmann when asked if he was comfortable with Khawaja opening the batting if Burns was dropped.
"We have to work out the best six and the batting order from there.
"If he (Khawaja) comes back in, someone will miss out and we have to work out who that is.
"(Shaun Marsh) is probably more comfortable there (at number five) but if we need an opener he could play that role.
"It is probably his preferred position and where he has had the most success, but if you are in the team you will bat anywhere.
"It gets down the make-up of the side and what we go with."
Meanwhile, Mitchell Starc is today undergoing surgery on his injured right ankle that will rule the fast bowler out of the remainder of the summer, Australia's away tour to New Zealand and potentially the World T20 in India in March.
A photo posted by @mstarc56 on