Usman Khawaja has been officially cleared to play in the second Test against the West Indies starting on Thursday, after he was struck on the jaw at the Adelaide Oval last week. Khawaja was forced to retire hurt in the first Test after a ball from Shamar Joseph missed his helmet grill and smashed him right in the face.
There were initial fears that the veteran opener might have suffered a fracture, but scans at hospital gave him the all clear. He passed an initial concussion test, and has continued to improve in the days that have followed.
On Sunday, the Test squad's reserve batter Matt Renshaw was released to play for the Brisbane Heat in the BBL finals on Monday night - a clear indication that Khawaja will play the second Test in Brisbane. A Cricket Australia spokesperson said on Sunday: “Usman Khawaja continues to progress through protocols following a head impact in the first Test match against the West Indies. He completed normal concussion assessments today.
“Khawaja will continue to be monitored for any delayed symptoms. He will be reviewed again tomorrow prior to returning to training ahead of the second Test match in Brisbane.”
Khawaja had earlier posted on social media: "Thanks for all the well wishes. I'm fine, just wanted Marnus to have a hit!" He was referencing the fact that he retired hurt with Australia just one run from victory. Marnus Labuschagne took just two balls to notch the winning run after coming on to replace Khawaja.
And on Monday afternoon, a Cricket Australia official confirmed Khawaja had been cleared to play after his latest concussion assessment. Khawaja will take part in a nets session at the Gabba and is all set to line-up in Australia's XI on Thursday.
Thts good news
— mind hunter (@mind_hunter1234) January 22, 2024
— Mal 'Pram' Kiely (@lancelotspram) January 21, 2024
Good to hear. I thought for all money it was a break & if it had been could well have spelt the end to Usman Khawaja’s International career. Will be an interesting test coming up for cricket’s concussion protocols? #AUSvsWI https://t.co/BPISxHBZWN
— NRL CONSPIRACIES- Where’s Warner 🤷🏻♂️ (@NrlConspiracies) January 19, 2024
— Vicki Schwarz (@VickiJSchwarz) January 20, 2024
Matt Renshaw released to play in BBL finals again
The Aussies avoided what could have been an embarrassing situation if Khawaja failed his initial concussion test and they were chasing a bigger total. Renshaw was the only back-up batter in the squad and could have come into the game in the result of a concussed player being ruled out, but he'd been released to play in the Heat's previous match in the BBL. It meant the Aussies didn't have a concussion sub for all of Friday's play, which is when Khawaja got hit.
"We consider the risk when we release players, and I think it's about 0.5 per cent of a chance in terms of a concussion happening," coach Andrew McDonald said on Saturday. "So it was ironic that the first time we have let a player go back to the Big Bash that there was a head knock."
Thankfully there are no more clashes between the Tests and BBL this summer, with the second Windies match set to commence on Thursday afternoon following the BBL final on Wednesday night. The Test matches have taken place much later in the summer this season because of scheduling headaches created by the Cricket World Cup.
In a non-World Cup year, the Tests normally start in November and finish up well before the BBL finals. The packed schedule, which included an Ashes series and World Test Championship final in the middle of last year, has created a big workload for a number of Aussie players.
Aussie fast bowlers set for 10-year first in second Windies Test
Fast bowlers Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have hardly had a break in the last 12 months, but are set to be part of some unique history when they play the second Test. Australia haven't fielded the same four bowlers in five consecutive Tests since the 2013/14 Ashes series when Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris and Nathan Lyon played every match.
But Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood and Lyon look likely to replicate that feat when they play in Brisbane. "It's trending that way," Cummins said after the 10-wicket win in Adelaide. "Always give it a day or two to see how everyone pulls up but I think everyone is in a good spot.
"At the start of the summer I didn't think it was going to be the case. But it's shaping up that way which is a huge nod to the fitness of the guys and the medical team and a couple of helpful wickets."
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