Usman Khawaja recalled to Australia squad for first two Ashes Tests vs England

Usman Khawaja has been recalled to the Australian Test squad for the first two Ashes tests against England.

Khawaja has not donned the baggy green cap since playing in the last Ashes series in 2019, where after only managing a top score of 40 in the first three games, he was dropped as Steve Smith returned from injury to play at Old Trafford and The Oval.

In Smith's absence, Marnus Labuschange had excelled and it was he who retained his place as opposed to the Pakistan-born player, who has scored almost 2,900 runs for Australia in his 44 Tests.

However, the 34-year-old has been in superb domestic form down under, notching over 400 runs for his state Sheffield Shield in six innings, and the national selectors have taken note with him named in a strong 15-man squad.

Speaking to reporters after the announcement, George Bailey, chairman of the National Selection Panel, said Khawaja was a "proven run scorer" at the top level.

"He brings a calm, consistent and experienced component to the batting line up and is a proven run scorer at Test level," said Bailey.

"He also has the ability to bat across a range of positions in the batting order."

Khawaja's Test debut actually came during a home Ashes series back in January 2011, when he replaced the injured Ricky Ponting for the fifth game at the SCG in Sydney – a series which represented the only time England have returned from Australian with the urn in 34 years.

Alongside Khwaja, paceman Jhye Richardson has also been recalled to the squad alongside two players yet to make their Test debuts – leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson and seamer Michael Neser.

And the tourists will also be wary of the inclusion of opener Marcus Harris following his strong season in county cricket with Leicestershire.

Harris will most likely form a partnership with David Warner, who despite his struggles in England in the last Ashes series, will be full of confidence following his heroics at the T20 World Cup.

Vice-captain Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, and Mitchell Swepson have also joined up with Tim Paine and co after being part of the squad which triumphed in Oman and the UAE.

The Ashes begin at the Gabba in Brisbane on December 8, before a day-night affair in Adelaide. The Australian selectors are then expected to reconvene before naming a squad for the remaining Tests in Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney.

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