Having wasted a chance to play in India in 2013 due to the ‘homework-gate’ saga, Australian opening batsman Usman Khawaja says he has learnt his lessons and is determined to make his mark in the upcoming four-match Test series in India beginning later this month.
Khawaja was in the Australian squad that toured India in 2013 when he became one of the four players, alongside Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson and James Pattinson, to be embroiled in the homework saga involving then-coach Mickey Arthur.
His subsequent suspension for failing to provide written feedback on how the team could improve ended Khawaja’s chance of playing Tests on that Indian tour, meaning the series opener in Pune on February 23 will be his first at that level against the host country, who are currently top ranked in the longer format of the game.
“It was a tough tour (India 2013), even from the sideline, just because we were losing games and things were not going our way,” Khawaja was quoted as saying by Fairfax Media in a report appeared in ‘Sydney Morning Herald’.
The Australian team is currently training in Dubai ahead of the Test series against India.
“There was a bit going on in and around the change room at the time. I think that happens from time to time, especially when you start losing games — it’s tough work. It is one of those things, we have a different group now, (different) support staff.
“All experiences…probably more so bad experiences or experiences where you fail probably help shape you as a cricketer and a person more. You always seem to learn when you don’t quite do as well or when the team doesn’t quite do as well, if things don’t go your way,” Khwaja said.
Australia lost the 2013 series 0-4 and still have not won a Test on Indian soil since 2004, when Adam Gilchrist led the side to a memorable 2-1 victory.
“I always get really excited playing against really good opposition, really good players, really good bowlers. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, playing and challenging yourself against the best players in the world,” Khawaja said.
“Everyone goes about their ways differently. Everyone will look at it (footage of Ashwin and Jadeja) at some point, but some people will look at it more, some people will look at it less. It’s the modern game, everyone looks at everyone nowadays, it’s just part and parcel of the game.”
Khawaja toured the sub-continent three times since making the Australian team six years ago and has played four Tests, two against Sri Lanka in 2011 and two more against the islanders last year.
His last trip to the subcontinent was in July last year for three Tests against Sri Lanka, a series Australia lost 0-3. Khawaja played in the first two matches before he was dropped for the third Test.
In four Tests on the subcontinent, Khawaja averages less than 20, in stark contrast to the superb numbers he has put up in Australia during the past two summers.
Last season he cracked 504 runs in four Tests, which included three centuries. This season, he has scored 581 runs in six Tests against South Africa and Pakistan, as well as helping himself to a couple of Sheffield Shield hundreds for Queensland in between.