Ashes 2023: ‘A real standout moment in his career’, Ponting hails Khawaja’s classy century

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Birmingham, June 19 (IANS) Former captain Ricky Ponting has hailed Usman Khawaja’s classy century in the ongoing first Ashes 2023 Test against England, calling it a real standout moment in the left-handed Australian opener’s career.

Khawaja’s outstanding 141, his first Test century in England, was the defining contribution in Australia’s first innings, and was an emotional moment for a batter who has made seven tons since his recall in January 2022.

“I think this is one of his best, to be honest. From the media’s point of view there were a few question marks over Usman coming to England. His record in England wasn’t where he wanted it to be and certainly not as good as it is in other parts of the world.

I think you could tell by his celebration just how much it meant to him. I’m not sure I’ve seen a batsman throw their bat up in the air actually when they’ve made a Test match hundred,” Ponting said in the latest episode of The ICC Review.

“I think everyone that watched it had to be impressed with the way that he played. He’s a laconic laid-back sort of character on the outside, but he’s constantly thinking about the game and how he needs to play and what he needs to do to give himself the best chance of scoring runs. And his innings was outstanding. It’s a bit of a monkey off the back I think and a real standout moment in his career,” he added.

Coming up against England and their ‘Bazball’ style was a new challenge for Pat Cummins and his Australian side, and it was clear from the opening ball of that series that the tourists had a strategy to counteract England’s aggression.

Ponting says he understands why Australia opted for such tactics, but knows that the approach opens Cummins and Co. up to criticism if the result doesn’t go their way.

“I think all of us in the commentary box were a little bit surprised that for the first ball of an Ashes series there’s a deep point and a deep square leg straight away. I can understand the theory behind that – the Australians know that the English batsmen thrive on hitting boundaries. So what they’re trying to do is eliminate the boundary opportunities, but also have their catchers in place where they think they’re going to get the wickets,” the former captain said.

“The only thing I was probably a little bit critical of on day one was that they started that way, and then whenever a new batsman came to the crease they kept the same fields and kept the fieldsmen out rather than bringing them up and trying to create some pressure.

But a lot of this stuff is irrelevant really. It all going to depend on what happens in the game. If Australia win the game then the tactics are going to be fine. But if they happen to lose the game because they’ve potentially given up a few easy runs, then that’s when the criticism will start,” he added.



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