By Alun Rhys Chivers
Glamorgan may have suffered an Ian Bell inspired defeat against the Division Two leaders Warwickshire at Edgbaston this week – but Usman Khawaja joined a select group of players by scoring a century on his debut for the club.
Khawaja’s 125, one of a number of good personal performances as Glamorgan gave the high-flying Bears a real fright, made him only the fourth Australian to do so – following Matthew Elliott, Mark Cosgrove and, most recently, Shaun Marsh, the man he has replaced in the 2018 team.
“There are some pretty amazing names and great cricketers there, so I’m pretty humbled,” said Khawaja, a 31-year-old who has played 33 Tests, and who has had previous county stints with Derbyshire and Lancashire.
“There’s a lot of tradition in Glamorgan and in Welsh cricket, so it’s nice to be amongst some guys who’ve done the same thing in their first game.”
But Khawaja says that there is one name on that list of debutant centurions that stands out – his father’s hero and fellow Pakistani, Javed Miandad, who scored 134 not out in his first appearance for Glamorgan against Essex at Swansea in 1980, and went on to be such a popular overseas player for the county.
“I was born in Pakistan, my father’s a cricket nutter,” he explained. “Javed Miandad is one of his favourite players.
“He used to talk about him all the time, being from Pakistan. My dad liked a lot of Pakistani players. I think he’d be really happy with that!”
Born in Islamabad, Khawaja and his family emigrated to Australia when he was a child but he says there was never any doubt where his international allegiance in cricketing terms lay.
“I never thought I’d play international cricket,” he says. “Growing up, you always dream about it but you just never know. But it’s always been about representing Australia.
“I grew up in Australia. When my parents first moved to Australia, they were supporting Pakistan. For me, it was always Australia. I’m very glad I got one Test Match, let alone a few others I’ve got.”
Khawaja, Australia’s first ever Pakistani-born, Muslim cricketer, will make his home debut in the Championship match against Derbyshire which starts in Swansea next Wednesday (June 20), and is also on board for the following week’s home game against Northamptonshire.
The focus will then switch to the Vitality Blast, and Khawaja is available for all but one of Glamorgan’s matches in the South Group, as he has to join Australia A’s tour of India before they face Surrey on August 17.