Kurtis Patterson is Australia’s latest centurion.
Kurtis Patterson is Australia’s latest centurion.

Ashes locks raise temps on stragglers

Usman Khawaja's poor Test form has left national selectorsin a conundrum, with former coach Darren Lehmann declaring Australia's No. 3 needs a circuit-breaker before the Ashes.

Lauded for his match-saving 141 against Pakistan in Dubai four months ago, Khawaja has scored just 209 runs at 23.22 in the home summer.

The 32-year-old looked badly out of sorts as he fell for a third-ball duck in the first innings against Sri Lanka in Canberra, barely moving his feet before nicking a delivery from left-arm paceman Vishwa Fernando to the slips.

Khawaja has been entrusted with an anchor role in Australia's new-look ODI side but selectors must decide whether to retain him for white-ball tours of India and the UAE, which clash with the remaining Sheffield Shield matches.

Australia are understandably eager to lock down their best ODI side before launching their World Cup defence in England on June 1 but it may be in their best interests to spare Khawaja from the subcontinent tours.

"He's got to play the four Shield matches with the Duke ball," Lehmann said on Macquarie Sports Radio.

"The way he got out yesterday was unlike Usman Khawaja, it was a lazy shot.

"He's a better player than that."

With David Warner and Steve Smith returning, and Joe Burns and Marcus Harris finding form, Khawaja may need a statement long-form innings before the side for the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston on August 1 is picked.

The problem for Khawaja is where that could possibly happen given his schedule.

An Australia A side will also tour England this winter but it will run concurrently with the World Cup, potentially denying Khawaja another red-ball hitout.

Unlike Burns, Glenn Maxwell, Cameron Bancroft and Shaun Marsh, Khawaja doesn't yet have a county deal for next season.

It means Khawaja's next long-format match could be on July 23, when Australia play Australia A in the only lead-up match before the Ashes.

Australian coach Justin Langer came to Khawaja's defence when interviewed before play on day two in Canberra.

"We know he's a hundred-maker," Langer told ABC Grandstand.

"If you look over his career, he scores hundreds and he scores big hundreds. He's a very, very good player. He's the No. 3 in the Australian Test team which usually goes to the No.1 batsman.

"He's working hard. He'll be fine."

After a summer of disappointment with poor results and dire batting collapses haunting Australia, the final Test of the summer has finally given Australia some hope.

Today saw Kurtis Patterson bat himself into an Ashes position with not only a stunning maiden century but an incredible form line with his record knock.

He joins returned opener Joe Burns and fellow maiden centurion Travis Head as Australia's century drought turned into a flood at Makuka Oval.

With it came a host of records.

Kurtis Patterson became the first Kurtis to score a Test match century.
Kurtis Patterson became the first Kurtis to score a Test match century.

Patterson's ton marked the first time in 30 years two Australian players had scored their first centuries in the same Test innings.

The last time it happened was Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh at Leeds in 1989.

The feat was matched last year by Indian pair Prithvi Shaw and Ravindra Jadeja against the West Indies.

Patterson's innings has seen him draw comparisons with the greatest batsman of all.

He was also the first Kurtis to score a Test century. In fact many of his milestones are Bradman-esque.

We might take the second tweet with a grain of salt after only two Test innings but it's certainly a promising start.

And it could have been very different after Patterson had a life on his first ball.

It comes a day after Head and Burns put on a 308-run stand - the highest ever made for Australia against Sri Lanka in Test cricket, beating their own 30-year record after bettering Steve Waugh and Dean Jones' 260 run stand at Bellerive Oval in 1989.

It was also a world record for the highest stand from two batters batting together for the first time - beating 291 between England's Andrew Strauss and Rob Key against the West Indies in 2004.

"Hopefully we can keep doing it again," Head said on a cricket.com.au's Facebook Live chat this morning.

"We hadn't batted together - we were talking about that out there actually.

"We're both pretty relaxed characters so it was nice to do it for a long period of time.

"We kept each other going, which was nice and hopefully plenty more runs with us two together."