Sydney, Jan 7 (IANS) Former Test opener Simon Katich has said that Cricket Australia (CA) cannot ignore the credentials of Usman Khawaja for the fifth and final Ashes Test in Hobart after the 35-year-old batter scored a patient 137 in the first innings of the fourth Test here.
Khawaja's effort, combined with Steve Smith's half-century put the hosts in a strong position as they aim to make a clean sweep of the series. Khawaja was included in the Test side after more than two years of playing Shield cricket when Travis Head tested positive for COVID-19 following the Boxing Day Test.
Head too was in sublime form, smashing a century in the opening Test at The Gabba, before he was omitted from the side after the third Test in Melbourne.
Khawaja scored his ninth Test ton and second against England before being dismissed for 137 on Thursday. He last played a Test in 2019.
Katich feels Khawaja should be considered for the Hobart Test as well as the upcoming tour of Pakistan in March-April.
"He's definitely in the four best batsmen of Australia," Katich said to 1170 SEN Breakfast. "His Test average suggests that. He averages over 40. Given the way he got the hundred yesterday (Thursday), he has to stay in the team."
Before the Ashes, Khawaja and Head were contenders for the No. 5 spot with Marcus Harris being given the job of opening alongside David Warner. Head got the nod and he went on to score a blistering 152 at The Gabba.
Katich believes Khawaja, who averages 97 as an opener, should face the new ball along with Warner and Harris should be dropped for the Hobart game. It would ensure Head returns to his No. 5 spot without tampering too much with the playing XI.
"At the end of the day, (Khawaja) scored a test hundred," Katich added. "Marcus Harris… he's into his 13th Test match, still hasn't got a hundred and averages mid 20s whereas Khawaja averages over 40. Head comes back in so that means Harris misses out.
"It's unfortunate (but) if you don't make Test hundreds, there's always someone else out there to grab your spot."
Katich also questioned why Khawaja was dropped during the 2019 Ashes.
"He was hard done by being dropped being dropped in the first place. He had a tough time over there, but he wasn't alone. I don't think that same level of respect was shown to Usman Khawaja."