Khawaja adds another ton to Ashes push

Usman Khawaja has boosted his strong Test recall claims with another shield century for Queensland.
Usman Khawaja has boosted his strong Test recall claims with another shield century for Queensland.

Usman Khawaja has posted another Sheffield Shield century for Queensland, further enhancing his compelling case for an Ashes recall.

Khawaja departed for 119 in the shadows of lunch on day two of the Bulls' match against Tasmania in Townsville.

Queensland declared at 6-487 in Thursday's post-lunch session, having seized control after Marnus Labuschagne's 136 on day one.

Former Test opener Matthew Renshaw finished 120 not out, also enjoying a productive stint at the crease for Queensland.

The visitors reached 4-150 at stumps in response, with Jordan Silk (45no) and Beau Webster (20no) tasked with a big rescue mission to get their side back in the contest.

The 34-year-old Khawaja, who hasn't played for Australia since being axed during the 2019 Ashes, occupies top spot on the Shield season run-scoring charts - his tally boosted by a knock of 174 against South Australia at Adelaide Oval earlier this month.

England's Test attack at the Gabba will represent a notably different threat to that encountered at Riverway Stadium, where Khawaja stroked 15 boundaries before finally falling to opposing captain Webster's offspin.

But Khawaja's recent form, coupled with the 34-year-old's versatility and experience, will ensure he is part of national selectors' thoughts in coming weeks.

Labuschagne, Steve Smith and David Warner are automatic selections for the first Test, which starts on December 8, while allrounder Cameron Green is expected to be retained in the XI.

There is no shortage of conjecture about the other two spots in the top six.

Will Pucovski was expected to open in the first Test but the Victorian prodigy remains on the sidelines because of his 10th concussion.

Khawaja averages almost 100 in seven Test innings as an opener, underlining his case for partnering Warner at the Gabba.

The veteran, who now bats at No.4 for Queensland, could also be deployed in the middle order.

"If I ever get selected for Test cricket again, I would love to bat anywhere - it doesn't really bother me," Khawaja said earlier this month.

"I think the selectors know that.

"I don't even worry about Test selection or Test cricket any more.

"I have learnt from my past. I don't even bother about it any more.

"I just play the game for Queensland."

Australian Associated Press