As the countdown to the Ashes begins, Usman Khawaja has shown his class on day three of Queensland’s clash with South Australia.
Ashes hopeful Usman Khawaja has reminded cricket fans of his strong leadership skills, both by making a selfless captain’s call and by stepping in after a bizarre moment at the crease on day three.
The Queensland skipper, who is hoping to break a two-year Test drought this summer, put the team above his own Ashes chances by forcing South Australia to follow on from its disappointing first innings at Karen Rolton Oval.
In doing so, Khawaja helped his team maintain what will likely be game-winning momentum but sacrificed his last opportunity to affirm his Test credentials.
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Khawaja’s decision was even more selfless given his own lacklustre first innings and Travis Head, his likely rival for a spot in the starting 11, now having another chance to bat before the game is finished.
In another showing of strong leadership, Khawaja stood up for his teammates after a strange moment at the crease.
The skipper exchanged firm words with Jake Weatherald when the South Australian batter kicked a Queensland helmet that had been left at the crease by fielder Matt Renshaw.
“Usman Khawaja is just having a bit of a discussion here (with Weatherald). The umpire’s come in,” the commentary team said.
“There’s just a bit of unwanted niggle out there at the moment.”
Khawaja’s decision to force the follow on already looks to be paying off — the Redbacks had 58 runs on the board without loss before Queensland quick Gurinder Sandhu took it upon himself to turn the tide.
The former Aussie international was the hero for the Bulls, claiming four wickets across his first six overs with the ball.
Before they knew it, the South Australians had lost Weatherald, Jake Carder, Alex Carey and dangerous youngster Henry Hunt in the space of 10 overs.
South Australia was 4-87 at the lunch break.