Australia batsman Usman Khawaja is not going down without a fight after being left out on the 20-man list to receive national contracts, saying he is still one of the best top-order batsmen in the country.
The left-hander has been struggling to regain his place in the Australia Test side after being dropped by coach Justin Langer for the final Ashes clash with England at The Oval last year.
He was also omitted from the limited-overs squads that travelled to India and South Africa earlier this year.
Speaking on Fox Sports, Khawaja emphasised that he still has a lot to offer and is not nearing the end of his career any time soon.
‘Age is just a number and if you’re performing, you’re performing; it’s not like I’m 37 or 38 and coming into right at the end of my career. Without sounding arrogant, I still feel like I’m one of the top six batsmen in the country,’ he said.
The 33-year-old’s fitness levels and ability to play against spin have been particularly been problematic in the past, while he also battled with inconsistency earlier in his career.
Khawaja was one of the most senior players in the Australia camp following the suspensions of David Warner and Steve Smith for ball- tampering in 2018.
But, since their return and the introduction of Marnus Labuschagne to the top order, Khawaja has suddenly found himself out of favour in all three formats.
‘My playing against spin has been right up there as some of the best in the county. Bar maybe Steve Smith, who is an absolute genius. But the most important thing is to score runs.’
Cricket Australia national selector Trevor Hohns said Khawaja was the toughest player to leave off the contract list and that it was unfortunate that he had to be snubbed.
‘If I’m looking at Test cricket, Usman’s form in Sheffield Shield cricket didn’t demand he was chosen for Australia,’ Hohns said.
“I think that’s fair. We’re pretty well looked after up there with Aaron Finch, David Warner, Steve Smith and now Marnus Labuschagne.’