We were scapegoats in Sri Lanka: Khawaja

23khawajaUsman Khawaja has spoken out about the decision to drop him and teammate Joe Burns for the final Test of Australia’s recent tour of Sri Lanka, saying they were made to be the “scapegoats” of the 3-0 series defeat. Both Khawaja and Burns enjoyed prolific home summers last season but the top-order duo struggled to make an impact on the subcontinent and were dumped after scoring 89 runs between them in the first two Tests against Sri Lanka. ‘‘It’s a pretty big decision after just two Test matches,’’ Khawaja told Fairfax. ‘‘It was disappointing that Joe Burns and I were sort of the scapegoats for not performing. ‘‘I just thought that I’d only played two Test matches in the subcontinent and I got dropped. I wasn’t the only person who wasn’t scoring runs. “There was only one other person who scored a 50 in the first two Test matches at that time and that was Steve Smith.’’

Khawaja struck three successive Test centuries against New Zealand and the West Indies at home last summer, before following it up with another ton against the Kiwis in Wellington to cap a remarkable 2015-16 season. Burns also impressed, notching hundreds against NZ at the Gabba, the West Indies at the MCG and then in Christchurch against the Black Caps. But neither player passed 30 in the first two Tests in Sri Lanka, leading the selectors to bring Shaun Marsh – who made 130 on his return to the Baggy Green – and allrounder Moises Henriques into the side for the final Test.

‘‘I only had two bad Test matches on tough wickets. I found it pretty fickle that the selectors dropped me for the third one,” Khawaja said. “It was disappointing how that panned out. But I guess there’s some things you don’t have control over.’’ Following Australia’s series whitewash on the island nation, Australia coach Darren Lehmann conceded both Burns and Khawaja were “unlucky” to miss the third Test. A member of the National Selection Panel, Lehmann last week flagged a possible return for Khawaja to Australia’s XI for the first Test against South Africa.

“I think you can look at him as a one, two or three,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “It depends on the make-up of the side. “At the end of the day the captain will decide where the batting order lies and we’ll just give him the side we think is the best prepared and the best team to win that particular game. “Usman is one of those guys can bat one, two, three or four, five or six… so that’s an advantage with him so really depends on how the other players shape up with the Shield round.” Khawaja made 35 captaining Queensland in today’s Matador BBQs One-Day Cup final against NSW and he’ll have another chance to push his case for a Test recall when the opening round of the Sheffield Shield gets underway on Tuesday. (Courtesy cricket.com.au)