Put myself in front of Pat Cummins and said ‘Just take the emotion out of it’: Usman Khawaja
Melbourne : When Australia declared their first innings at 475/4, left-handed opener Usman Khawaja was left stranded on 195, missing his first Test double hundred by just five runs. The move from captain Pat Cummins led to huge criticism from cricket fans.
Now, Khawaja has revealed that he had encouraged Cummins to declare the innings, putting the team above his personal milestone. “I could sort of feel it off Patty, you can sort of walk past and sense this awkward tension and I was like, ‘Yeah, I know what he’s thinking’.”
“But it was alright, I actually made the effort, I went up to him and said, ‘Mate, do whatever you need to, don’t worry about me, you’ve got to try and win a Test match, we’ve all got to try and win a Test match’.”
“What kind of teammate would I be if we weren’t trying to do that? I was putting myself in front of him and said, ‘Just take the emotion out of it’, he was like, ‘I appreciate that’, so it was fine,” he said to SEN radio.
Khawaja explained that the reality of him not potentially getting a double hundred hit him early on day four of the match. By then, four consecutive sessions of the Sydney Test had been lost to rain.
“The rain just kept cooking me. I really could have tried to get that 200 the night before if I really wanted to. But, obviously having no idea I thought, ‘It’s Day 2, I’ve got tomorrow, I could get 400 here if I’m good enough, you’ve got all day tomorrow’.
I wasn’t thinking about it at all but then it rained all day during Day 3, and I thought, ‘That’s not ideal’.” “Then I thought, ‘Morning of Day 4, I’ll get it then’, but then on the morning of Day 4, it just started raining again.
Then I was like, ‘I know Pat wants to bowl and we want to win the Test match’.” “They were taking the covers off and there was a little muddy patch on the wicket and I’m like, ‘Nothing’s going my way here, if we don’t start soon, I’m in trouble’.
I could just read the room.” “I think if it went and rained again most of that day and we went into Day 5 I think Patty might have been like, ‘Let’s just bat boys, we can’t win this game’. But it finished at a time when we could have won the game, it was just unfortunate timing, to be honest.”
Khawaja, who was named Player of the Match in the Sydney Test for his 195, insisted he isn’t concerned about individual achievements anymore. “I love the team element (of playing cricket). My favourite part of cricket is when you’re in the changerooms with the boys and taking the mickey out of each other.”
“I remember those moments more than anything else. Cricket is a sport of individuals but you are trying to win a game for your team and (there’s no point) if you’re not doing that. Up until I was about 25, I was very self-focused and I just wanted to get runs.”
“Big things happened in my career and in my life and it just made me realise that the most important thing always is what the team needs from me. As a cricketer, individual milestones are awesome but if you’re not winning cricket games and doing what’s right for your team, you’re probably not playing the game the right way.”
Khawaja will now play for Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League (BBL) before embarking on a highly anticipated tour of India for four Tests, which begins from February 9 in Nagpur.