“It looked like we were going to lose the game…” Usman Khawaja Revealed His Plan Against Bazball Tactics

In Australia’s glorious victory at Edgbaston, Usman Khawaja emerged as the centrepiece, hoping to redefine the narrative of memorable Ashes losses. Reflecting on iconic moments such as Ian Botham’s heroics in 1981, Andrew Flintoff’s brilliance in 2005, and Ben Stokes’ miraculous century at Headingley in 2019, Khawaja aims to create his unforgettable Ashes memories.

“I’ve grown up watching Ashes highlights, watching Botham smacking us around and taking wickets. What Flintoff did sticks out in my head from 2005. Those sorts of highlights you keep seeing on TV. And as much as I hate it, Stokes’ Headingley inning was unbelievable. I respect what he did in that game. I don’t think we’ll see anything like that for a long time. And then with this game, the way it ebbed and flowed, the way they came out and attacked, it looked like we were going to lose the game, probably with an hour to go, and come back and win. By far my favourite game of all time.” Usman Khawaja said after the match.

Khawaja attributes his patience and resilience to his upbringing in an Islamic family and his Muslim faith, which emphasizes the importance of these virtues. Patience and mindfulness have become integral to his approach to cricket and life, allowing him to navigate the ups and downs with equanimity. Whether facing challenges on the field or in personal life, Khawaja remains steadfast in his belief that another opportunity for success will arise.

“One of the big things, just growing up in an Islamic family and being Muslim, patience is a big part of it. It’s a big part of my life. I’ve talked about gratitude a lot, being mindful, and mindfulness is a massive part of that patience, as big a part as anything, because life’s full of ups and downs” said Khawaja.

“Sometimes the ups are great if you don’t understand the downs. And I just tried to, for me, just be patient and to know that at some point, there’ll be another up. So whether that’s cricket or life or anything in general, that’s a big part. And then, on the field, I just like to bat. But that’s where the patience comes from.”

Australia faced a stern challenge when England unleashed their Bazball approach, scoring rapidly and unconventionally. Khawaja acknowledges the entertainment value of such aggressive batting, exemplified by Joe Root’s audacious reverse-lap shot. He finds amusement in witnessing the unorthodox shots being executed successfully. However, he emphasizes the importance of holding one’s nerve and the role of experienced players in dealing with such aggressive tactics.

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“On the field, sometimes even I love it. I think it’s kind of entertaining. You see Joe Root coming out and trying to reverse lap one first ball of the day yesterday, on day four. I mean, 20 years ago, he would have been dropped just for playing that shot, like he seriously would have been dropped. And when you see that, you laugh, but then he hits one, then hits another one. And it’s like, that’s pretty cool. So I respect how they’re playing their cricket right now. And the proof’s in the pudding. They’ve won a lot of cricket based on the way they’re playing. But at the same time, we’ve got two very good teams, and Test match cricket is not about how you win. It’s about winning or losing. It all comes down to that in the end.” Khawaja further added.

“When a team is flying, going six runs an over, it can be quite tough. You need to hold your nerve. Luckily, some really good bowlers and some older heads in the team can hopefully hold on better than, I guess, some other younger cricketers they may have come across in the past.”

While England’s Bazball approach has brought them success, Khawaja believes that Test cricket ultimately comes down to winning or losing. Both teams possess talented players, and the outcome of the matches hinges on who can hold their nerve and perform under pressure. Khawaja acknowledges the challenges posed by a team scoring rapidly, but he expresses confidence in Australia’s seasoned bowlers and experienced heads to counter such situations effectively.

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