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Usman Khawaja should play Sheffield Shield to improve his form before the Ashes: Darren Lehmann

He also said that some issues in the batsman’s family could have got the better of his concentration and form.

Usman Khawaja
Usman Khawaja. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)

Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann has opined that their middle-order batsman Usman Khawaja should take some time off from international cricket to play in the Sheffield Shield. He thinks that this is important for him to regain his form ahead of the all-important Ashes series.

The left-hander’s form has been very poor of late, and his performance in the second Test against Sri Lanka again came under the scanner as he was dismissed for a third-ball duck in Canberra. Since his match-winning innings against Pakistan in Dubai, the southpaw has only one half-century in 11 innings.

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“The way he got out, was very unlike Usman Khawaja, it was a lazy shot. He’s not like that, he’s a better player than that,” Lehmann told Macquarie Sports Radio. “He’s just looking a bit flat when he plays. He’s not as sharp early on as he was say in Perth, when he got his highest score of the summer. He got the 70, looked sharp and ready to score. He’s a better player than he has shown, we know.”

He then suggested that Khawaja should not focus much on ODI cricket, play first-class cricket to better himself for the biggest Test challenge of the year. “If I’m fair dinkum about batting him three in the Ashes, I don’t think you can take him to the one-day series against India and Pakistan. I think he’s got to play the four Shield games at the back end with the Dukes ball and get some form, and it’s one for the selectors to mull over.”

Family-related issues

He also said that some issues in the batsman’s family could have got the better of his concentration and form. His brother was recently arrested by the police for reasons kept private. “The family issues certainly would’ve affected him, there’s no doubt about that. When you’ve got issues going on with your loved ones, cricket takes second string. We’re only playing a game,” he said.

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