Perth: Australia opener Usman Khawaja has called for the national selectors to prefer class over form while picking next Test opener, post the retirement of David Warner from the format. Warner had earlier said about his wish to end his Test career when Australia face Pakistan in the third and final game of the series at the SCG in January 2024.
The veteran left-handed opener has been named in Australia’s 14-player squad for the first Test against Pakistan at the Optus Stadium in Perth, beginning from December 14. As of now, Cameron Bancroft, Matthew Renshaw and Marcus Harris are the leading contenders for the role post Warner’s retirement.
“To be honest, it (who my next opening partner is) doesn’t really matter to me, genuinely. Whoever the selectors are going to pick, they’re going to pick because they think they’re the best for the role. I don’t even believe in the ‘bat-off’ people are talking about right now. I think it (the decision) is going to come to a lot more than that.”
“You can’t pick teams on form. You’ve got to pick teams on who you think the best player is. If we pick teams on form, the Australian team would be changing every second week, so you just can’t do that. Class is always permanent. Form is always temporary. It will be interesting to see which way they go. I actually don’t know,” said Khawaja on SEN Radio.
He further conceded that runs at First-Class level do play into how players are selected, but believes the likes of Bancroft, Renshaw and Harris have done enough for selection. “I think it (making runs) does (play into it). But I think if you go a bit further back for the last five years, all of the guys that are in contention would have scored a truckload of runs. It would be very similar. It just depends on how big a sample size you want to make it.”
Khawaja also revealed that he’s mostly talking to Warner about a game of golf rather than discussing cricket things ahead of Tests against Pakistan. “I always text Davey. But I think we were mostly talking about where we were going to play golf when we were in Perth. (My handicap) could be less. I just need to play more. I’ve negotiated (with the wife) to play once a week. I think that’s good enough.”