Since Usman Khawaja’s ‘re-debut’ in Test cricket in the New Year’s Test in 2022, no batter has scored more runs (2,382), and no opener has been better. For two years now, Khawaja has unquestionably been Australia’s best batter in Tests across conditions.
However, of late, the left-hander has developed a bad habit — getting out in the 40s.
And it’s now come to the point that this bad habit of Khawaja is starting to hurt both himself and the side.
43. 47. 41. 42. 47. 45.
Across his last 13 Test innings, Khawaja has now been dismissed 6 times in the 40s, which is a whopping 46.15% of the time. This figure stands at 57.14% across the last seven innings.
The left-hander registered three 40s in the Pakistan series, throwing away starts for which he worked hard, and he’s now begun the West Indies series with another 40, falling five short of a half-century.
On a slow, dicey Adelaide wicket with inconsistent carry, Khawaja did all the hard work and dragged himself to 45 on the second hour of Day 2. He carefully kept out the good deliveries while ensuring the bad ones were put away. The 37-year-old got a reprieve while batting on 3 (dropped by the wicket-keeper Joshua da Silva), and for a long while, he was making the most out of the drop, grinding the West Indian bowlers down in trademark fashion.
He stood firm though others around him perished, and early on Day 2, he was starting to build what looked like a significant stand, with Travis Head.
But just when a second fifty-plus score of the summer was looking inevitable for Khawaja, he suffered a lapse in concentration and threw his hands at a very full and wide delivery that he could, and probably should, have let go. And by doing so, the left-hander endured yet another dismissal in the 40s to make it 6 times in 13 innings.
This ‘nervous 40s’ has really come out of nowhere for Khawaja. Between January 5, 2022, and June 28, 2023, he scored 40 or more 18 times and averaged 126.85 (7 hundreds and 9 fifties). During this period, he was dismissed in the 40s just once, in 2022 against West Indies in Adelaide.
However, after the 43 against England in the second innings of the Headingley Test, Khawaja has made a habit of getting out in the 40s.
The ‘anti-conversion’ virus that’s affected both Smith and Labuschagne now seems to have caught on to Khawaja.
Khawaja walks off concussed after being rattled by a Shamar Joseph bouncer
Aamer Jamal is excellent but Pakistan's slip catching is not
In Australia’s moment of glory - Khawaja dons the spotlight and how!
Bastab K Parida
Khawaja’s marathon knock; Ashwin surpasses Kumble
Usman Khawaja shines yet again - this time the brightest
Bastab K Parida
Yet another day of missed opportunities for Australia
A Khawaja sense of security against Pakistan's trial by pace
Usman Khawaja and the ‘almost perfect’ homecoming
Khawaja's twin tons augment Australia's problem of plenty