Former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson believes that the national selectors should give Usman Khawaja a longer run in the Test playing XI, saying he is one of best batsmen across all formats in recent times.
Watson further added that it wasn’t enough to just pick Khawaja, but stick with him even when he is out of form, as well as, the national selectors and team management should instill the same confidence in him.
The 31-year-old is likely to be picked for Australia’s upcoming two-Test series against Pakistan to be held in the United Arab Emirates in October following his brilliant form with the bat against India A.
With the absence of their senior players Steve Smith and David Warner serving their bans following ball-tempering saga in South Africa, Australia must have senior pros like Khawaja against Pakistan.
Watson told cricket.com.au, “I hope Uzzie (Usman Khawaja) gets a really good run. He's one of our world-class batsmen, across all formats. He just needs have the confidence instilled in him by the selectors and by the coaching staff, to let him play with the freedom he does when he's at his best. We don't have a lot of world-class batsmen at the moment around Australian cricket and he's absolutely one.”
He further added, “But when he's not getting selected all the time, he's worried about failing. Then you can see him going into his shell and that's not when he's at his best. When he is at his best he's one of the best ones we've got. They need to look after him. If they keep playing him for one or two Test matches and then dropping him, that's not getting the best out of him.”
The all-rounder also stressed on the need to give the national players more time in the Playing XI to allow them to deliver their best, as fear of losing their spot in the side affects their form.
Watson further explained, “When you're not performing in any walk of life, then you can sense when the heat is starting to come on. The biggest challenge, mentally, is not letting that infiltrate when you're playing at your best, because when you're playing at your best, you're not thinking about needing to score runs, you're thinking about how and where I am going to score my runs. That's where they need to get back to in Australian cricket. Give them the confidence that they have got time, they can play their natural game, not play someone in one Test match and then drop them.”
Watson signed off by saying, “It's not just the player that gets dropped. The other players around then go 'if they can drop him that quick, I better score runs'. And then the person coming in would be thinking 'if I don’t score runs in this first game, then I might be out as well'.”