MUMBAI: Former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, who is currently IPL side Delhi Capitals' assistant coach, has come down heavily on Cricket Australia (CA) for keeping Usman Khawaja out of Test contention for more than two years, given his pedigree and batting credentials.
Khawaja already has four centuries to his name this year and finished the recent three-Test series against Pakistan amassing 496 runs from five innings at an amazing average of 165.33. The 35-year-old Khawaja's superb performances in 2022 have seen him climb to a career-best seventh in the latest ICC Test Rankings for batters.
Khawaja was dropped by the Australian selectors in August 2019 and didn't earn a Test recall until the fourth Ashes Test in the New Year at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
"Usman Khawaja has always been one of our best batters and one of the highest skilled batters in Australia and I could never believe when he wasn't picked," Watson told The ICC Review on Friday.
"It's awesome what he is doing now, but for me it is actually a bit sad that we have missed an opportunity in the previous four or five years to be able to see that version of him playing for Australia. He has never lost his skills and has probably got better skills now than he ever had.
"I am absolutely stoked for him and so glad he got an opportunity towards the back end of his career to prove himself...he really deserves it."
Watson also hoped the selectors would give 26-year-old Test batter Matthew Renshaw another chance as he felt he can prosper for Australia in the five-day game.
Renshaw has so far played 11 Tests, scoring a century against Pakistan in 2017. But he too has been overlooked for a long period of time. Renshaw played his last Test for Australia in March 2018.
"There is one batter in Australia that we often forget about and that is Matt Renshaw," Watson said. "We sort (of) have just chewed him up and spat him out pretty quickly in the Aussie system which was very disappointing as this guy is incredibly skilful. It wouldn't surprise me if at some stage they don't revert back to him because he is as good as any young batter I have seen in Australia."