Usman Khawaja lazy one day, elegant the next as he answers critics with huge Ashes hundred
The 31-year-old plunders 171 as Australia batter England in Sydney, finishing day three 133 runs in front with six wickets in hand
Usman Khawaja answered his critics on Saturday with the best way he knows how: by scoring runs, and lots of them.
Khawaja made 171 on the third day of the fifth Ashes test at the Sydney Cricket Ground for his first century since his 145 against South Africa in Adelaide in November 2016, a span of 15 innings.
It was a timely innings for the 31-year-old as questions around his spot in the team had begun to arise after only scoring two 50s in six innings this Ashes series.
“It’s disappointing to hear, but it’s something I have dealt with throughout my career,” said Khawaja, who has six test centuries at an average of 45.8.
“When I am scoring runs, I’m elegant, and when I’m not scoring runs I’m lazy. Can’t seem to win when things aren’t going well.”
Resuming on 91, the left-hander answered those doubts emphatically as he calmly negotiated his way through the 90s to raise his maiden Ashes century in the eighth over of the day with a cut off Moeen Ali to backward point for two. It came off 222 balls with seven boundaries and a six.
A clearly relieved Khawaja celebrated by removing his helmet and raising his bat toward his teammates and family seated in the members stand at the SCG, before being warmly embraced by his captain Steve Smith.
“It’s awesome,” Khawaja said after the close of play. “The SCG was where I grew up playing cricket for New South Wales and an Ashes century is something I have wanted for a long time and I haven’t been able to achieve. So it was very satisfying.”
Khawaja went on to pass 150 for just the second time in his 29 tests and was eventually dismissed by debutant leg spinner Mason Crane, stumped by Jonny Bairstow for 171 off 381 balls.
His 515 minute innings included 18 boundaries and a six straight down the ground off Ali to raise his 50 on Friday.
At the close of play on a dispiriting third day for the tourists, who took just two wickets, brothers Shaun and Mitchell Marsh were making merry in an unbroken 104-run partnership as Australia cruised to 479 for four.
Mitchell Marsh clubbed Ali for two sixes in three balls to be 63 not out off 87 balls at stumps, while Shaun is 98* with Australia, who lead the five-match series 3-0, boasting a first-innings lead of 133. Earlier in the day, Australian captain Steve Smith fell to Ali for 83.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse