• Jason Regan

Aussies seize control after Khawaja ton

Usman Khawaja has made the most of his recall and reprieve, celebrating with a century that prompted Australia to declare at 8-416 late on day two of the fourth Ashes Test.


Usman Khawaja of Australia celebrates his century during day 2 of the fourth Ashes Test between Australia and England at the SCG. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

England's openers survived a five-over burst at the SCG to finish 0-13, but only after replays revealed Mitchell Starc's dismissal of Zak Crawley came off a no-ball.


Khawaja, playing in his first Test since being axed during the 2019 Ashes, scored 137 to help his side seize the upper hand.


The left-hander offered a chance off the bowling of Jack Leach on 28, which Joe Root put down at first slip to continue a miserable series as England captain.


Khawaja leapt with joy after reaching three figures in the final over before tea before being given a standing ovation when dismissed by Stuart Broad late in the day's final session.



Pat Cummins declared soon after, with a six from Nathan Lyon proving a fitting exclamation mark to a commanding innings. Thursday started with much promise for the tourists, who reduced Australia to 3-117 on a stop-start opening day.


Root's hopes of restoring some pride, which is all England have to play for after three lopsided losses handed Australia an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series, were then hammered.


The most stinging blow to England's sapped confidence was arguably Ben Stokes' side injury, which prevented him from bowling after delivering a bouncer barrage in the morning.


Khawaja, the 15th player to don the baggy green this summer and only given a chance because of Travis Head's positive COVID-19 test, underlined Australia's embarrassment of riches.


The elegant left-hander faced 260 deliveries, exhibiting the sort of patience and resolve that England's embarrassing batters have failed to show. Queensland's captain already has more runs this series than any Englishman, apart from Root and Dawid Malan.


Broad bent his back to dismiss Khawaja, having earlier put the second new ball to good use to snap the fan-favourites 115-run stand with Steve Smith (67). His haul of 5-101 only raised fresh questions why he wasn't selected in Brisbane or Melbourne.


After Australia declared, English openers Crawley and Hameed were left with a tricky, 20-minute session to negotiate before stumps. When Mitchel Starc clipped Crawley's outside edge in the third over it looked like more of the same for the Tourists with Warner hanging onto the chance in the slips.


But the third umpire was asked to check for a possible no-ball which was confirmed, a rare slice of luck for England in this series. Crawley returned to the crease and was able to see off the remainder of the over.


England will resume tomorrow morning at 0 for 13, in need of quick runs to keep their chances of winning the game alive.


Snapshot of Day Two

Score: Australia 8(dec)-416, England 0-13


Summary: Australia resumed at 3-126 and heaped fresh misery on their rivals. Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith navigated a wicket-less morning session, during which Ben Stokes suffered a side injury. Things failed to improve for the tourists, with Khawaja scoring 137 leading to a Pat Cummins declaration. England's openers then survived five overs. 


Man of the moment: Khawaja. Capped his long-awaited Test recall with a classy century and Lebron James' 'The Silencer' celebration. It was the left-hander's first game at any level for a month, while he hadn't played for Australia since the 2019 Ashes.

Key moment: Joe Root grassed a catch at first slip in the 71st over, when Khawaja was on 28 and Australia 3-186. It proved an incredibly costly blow.


Stat of the day: Stuart Broad removed Khawaja, Smith and David Warner in his five-wicket haul. The veteran has dismissed Smith (9) and Warner (13) more times in Test cricket than any other bowler.