Australia seize control after Khawaja ton
Rob Forsaith |
Usman Khawaja was humbled by a hero’s reception at his SCG homecoming, having made the most of a recall and reprieve to post a century that gave Australia control of the fourth Ashes Test.
Khawaja, playing in his first Test since being axed during the 2019 Ashes, scored 137 to help his side declare at 8-416 late on day two.
The elegant left-hander offered a chance off the bowling of Jack Leach on 28, which Joe Root put down at first slip to continue a miserable series as England captain.
England’s openers survived a five-over burst to finish 0-13, but only after replays revealed Mitchell Starc’s dismissal of Zak Crawley came off a no-ball.
The day was unquestionably owned by Khawaja, who was given a standing ovation when dismissed by Stuart Broad late in the day’s final session.
The crowd of 24,855 even booed Pat Cummins when he took a single off the final ball of the penultimate over of the post-lunch session, when Khawaja was on 99.
The 35-year-old leapt with joy after reaching three figures in the ensuing over, with adoring locals clearly holding no grudge about his shift from NSW to Queensland in 2012.
“It was probably the most touching, humbling, amazing feeling out there,” he said.
“The roar that went up. They were chanting Uzzy as I was coming off.
“It’s the stuff you dream of.
“It usually happens to bowlers, batsmen don’t normally get that sort of treatment.
“I’m a Queenslander now … but I don’t forget where I come from.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Cricket NSW and what they’ve given me.”
Khawaja, who made his Test debut at the same ground and against the same opposition in 2011, resumed on four and a reverse-sweep to Leach was an early sign he was in the zone.
Thursday started with much promise for the tourists, who reduced Australia to 3-117 on a stop-start opening day.
Root’s hopes of restoring some pride, which is all England have to play for after three lopsided losses handed Australia an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series, were then hammered.
The most stinging blow to England’s sapped confidence was arguably Ben Stokes’ side injury, which prevented him from bowling after delivering a bouncer barrage in the morning.
Jos Buttler also copped a nasty blow to the hand, but continued to keep wickets.
Everywhere you looked at the iconic ground there were reminders of the chasm between the rivals this summer.
Khawaja, the 15th player to don the baggy green this summer and only given a chance because of Travis Head’s positive COVID-19 test, underlined Australia’s embarrassment of riches.
The veteran faced 260 deliveries, exhibiting the sort of patience and resolve that England’s embarrassed batters have failed to show.
Queensland’s captain already has more runs this series than any Englishman, apart from Root and Dawid Malan.
“No doubt it was Australia’s day,” Broad said after his haul of 5-101, having also dismissed Steve Smith for 67.
“Khawaja played beautifully.
“All the seamers charged in when Stokesy went down, we can hold our heads high.
“We showed heart, we showed character.”AAP