Usman Khawaja gave Australia a major fitness boost ahead of next month’s home Test series against India, claiming he was ahead of schedule in his recovery from a meniscal tear. Khawaja, who went underwent surgery on October 23 to repair his knee, is targetting an early return that’ll see him play one Sheffield Shield game before the Adelaide Test starts on December 6.
Khawaja picked up the injury at a throwing drill during the Abu Dhabi Test against Pakistan last month. Thankfully he hadn’t re-torn his Anterior Cruciate Ligament that he’d first damaged in 2014, but the injury originally seemed set to keep him on the sidelines for a significant duration.
“In an ideal world I would like to play a Shield game before then (the first Test). That’s the target, that’s the goal, but just have to see. Still three weeks until then, so if everything keeps going the same way it should be good,” Khawaja said on Thursday (November 8).
“It’s going pretty well so far, just over two weeks, ran at 100% yesterday on the treadmill, hopefully run outside tomorrow, so progressing well so far. The docs and everyone have been really happy with the progress, there’s a long way to go, just taking it day by day at the moment but hoping to be right sooner rather than later.
“I’m trying to keep it cool, but it’s actually going really well. I feel like I’m a little bit ahead of where I should be and, at the moment, things are progressing well but it’s a long way still to go. If I keep doing the little things right, looking after my body and being disciplined, hopefully that’ll transition to me coming back in time,” he added.
The 31-year-old, who banished demons of his supposed inability to handle spin with an inspirational 141 in Dubai, said he was still gutted at not being able to contribute in the second Test that Australia lost by 373 runs to concede the series.
“It was disappointing, that second Test. You always feel like you let your teammates down when you get injured and we did lose that second match. For me it was rewarding that first match that we got out of it with a draw but obviously I would have liked to have played that second match and won that game.”
The untimely injury also cost the southpaw a possible return to the ODI team in the series against South Africa. However, given Australia’s recent struggles in the 50-over format – they’ve won only one game in 2018 so far – his dream of securing a place in next year’s World Cup squad hasn’t dissipated. “Targeting that World Cup is a big thing,” Khawaja said.
“It’s one of my major goals to get back into the one-day side, I’ve had chats to Justin [Langer] about it, he knows where I’m at too, but at the end of the day, we play a game, it’s all about performances. Hopefully when I’m right and things are going well, I’ll put my hand up through performances.
“But the guys playing in the one day side are very good players. I have no doubt they’ll come back strong. It’s been a tough time for Australian cricket in more respects than just on-field, so it’d be nice as a fan and a mate to a lot of those guys to see them do well.”