Khawaja knows he could be back for just one Test, as Aussie squad tests negative

Almost 10 years to the day since making his international debut in an Ashes Test at the SCG, Usman Khawaja is preparing for his 45th cap in unusual circumstances.

Key points:

  • Usman Khawaja is expected to return to the Test team in place of Travis Head, who tested positive for COVID-19
  • All other members of the Australian team and support staff have tested negative
  • The fourth Ashes Test starts 10 years and two days after Khawaja's debut on the same ground

After losing the race with Travis Head for the number five spot in the side for the first three games of the series against England, Head's positive COVID result has forced a shake-up to the Australian XI, although Cricket Australia said on Saturday afternoon that all other players and support staff had tested negative.

Khawaja is expected to step into the role, but T20 World Cup hero Mitch Marsh and wicketkeeper Josh Inglis have been added to the squad ahead of the Sydney Test.

"If I do get an opportunity, it's always very exciting to play Test cricket, but even more so SCG, where my old home is," said former Sydneysider Khawaja, who debuted in the final game of the 2010/11 Ashes series.

Back then, the Aussies were down 2-1 and had already lost the trophy. This time around, fortunes have flipped, with Australia trying to go 4-0 up after winning the series with a thumping win inside three days in Melbourne.

And while that game was the start of a long career representing Australia, Khawaja is well aware this return — his first Test since being dropped during the 2019 Ashes tour — could be short-lived.

If Khawaja plays the fourth Test, he will be one of five Australian players who made their Test debuts in 2011.(Paul Miller: AAP)

"If I do play, it'll only be for one game. Heady will come back next game, I understand the situation," he said.

"I'll potentially have one game here for Australia. Hopefully I can go out there and score a hundred in the absence of Heady.

"I know there's still a lot of cricket to come up in the subcontinent, which I feel I'm very suited to too [and] I'm looking forward to hopefully being a part of."

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Khawaja said he was somewhat out of practice, having not played a game since Australia A clashed with England's touring side alongside the first Test in early December.

After a sensational start to the Sheffield Shield season earned him a spot in the extended Ashes squad, Khawaja scored just 11 and 5 against the English Lions.

"I haven't played for maybe a month now, so it does make it a little different," he said.

"Hopefully if I play and get out there and bat for half an hour and get into it, I should find that sync again.

"I've been batting in the nets, but anyone will tell you it's not the same. I've stayed as ready as I can on the sideline."


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