Khawaja misses out as Aussies opt for Hughes
DESPITE hitting a half-century against Sri Lanka, Usman Khawaja already knows he will not be lining up against the tourists in the first Test next week.
Phillip Hughes has been given the nod ahead of Khawaja as the replacement for Ricky Ponting when the 12-man squad for the first Test in Tasmania, starting on December 14, was announced yesterday.
The squad was announced after the first day of the Cricket Australia Chairman's XI match against the Sri Lankans at Canberra.
Khawaja, who had spells in the last two seasons with Derbyshire, was named as captain for the three-day fixture, though he will miss the final day after being recalled by Sydney Thunder to play in the opening game of the BBL twenty20 competition.
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The left-hander made a cautious start after coming in to bat at three for the Chairman's XI but went on to score 56 off 104 balls with nine fours and two sixes before he was caught at short midwicket.
A tough first day for the tourists ended with the score 390-4.
Hughes made a sensational start to his Test career in 2009 but lost his way and has not been selected since facing New Zealand at Hobart last year.
But he has been in good form this season and national selector John Inverarity said he believes the 24-year-old left-hander returns to the fold a wiser and better player.
"If you watched him closely 12 months ago and now, his scoring range is very different," Inverarity said. "He's scoring through the leg side off his pads much better, driving on the on-side, and pulling short balls, which wasn't the case 12 months ago.
"So I think he's developed his game and it is much harder for bowlers now in a sense to corner him.
"Last year when he was dropped from the Test team he decided not to play BBL and to work on his technique and get himself into a better space.
"We didn't select him for the Australia A team because he had a long-term opportunity with Worcestershire, where he did very well.
"I think being there and out of the spotlight and working in a very consistent environment has done him a great deal of good."
Despite missing out this time, Khawaja will still consider himself a longer-term prospect for the Australia squad for the Ashes tour next year, with Derbyshire keeping a keen eye on his progress as they look at their options for an overseas signing in 2013.