Charismatic Australia batter Usman Khawaja believes the team has learnt from its past mistakes on subcontinent pitches and is much better prepared to take on Sri Lanka in the two-Test series beginning in Galle on June 29.
Australia suffered a disastrous 0-3 whitewash the last time they toured the Island nation six year ago with Khawaja being made the “scapegoat”. But the 35-year-old has returned to Sri Lanka with supreme confidence after making a massive impact in the three-Test series in Pakistan, which Australia won 1-0 under Pat Cummins recently.
Elaborating on the mistakes committed on the disastrous tour of Sri Lanka in 2016, Khawaja said that having different plans for each of the three Test proved to be Australia’s downfall.
“I think we had three different plans for three different Test matches, which is not ideal,” Khawaja told cricket.com.au on Sunday. “It’s something that I addressed before we played in Pakistan to the group, just (speaking about) the experiences I’ve had.
“Because if you have the right process and you have the right game plan, and you don’t execute it, that doesn’t mean you need to go and change it. Especially in the subcontinent, because things can get tough and change really quickly here.
“Last time (in Sri Lanka), we probably didn’t do it well enough. We probably second guessed ourselves a bit too much,” opined Khawaja.
Khawaja began his Test comeback earlier this year when Travis Head was ruled out of the fourth Ashes game at Sydney due to Covid-19. The Pakistan-born cricketer made an instant impact making a century in each innings in the drawn game.
Since then, he has not looked back, scoring 751 runs at 125 in nine innings, including four centuries. The opening Test at Galle will be a major milestone for Khawaja at it will be his 50th in a career spanning 11 years.
Khawaja believes the current crop will not repeat the same mistakes committed by their predecessors as they have the capability to play against the turning ball.
“We proved to ourselves in Pakistan that we had the game plan to do well in the subcontinent. This is one of the better teams of playing spin that I’ve been a part of with the Australian cricket team. I think we’ve learned from past mistakes, and the young guys coming in are learning from the older guys’ mistakes.
“I think the big thing is to give players experience and to understand that when they’re young, they’re going to fail a little bit. (But) if you really think that they are the best players, you need to stick with them. Because when they come back next time and the time after that, that’s when they’re going to start rewarding you.”