The Courier-Mail

Khawaja’s the Blue we just can’t boo

- BEN DOR­RIES

NEW Bulls cap­tain Us­man Khawaja wears a sky blue jersey at State of Ori­gin time but that is not un­usual in the chang­ing land­scape of Queens­land cricket.

The Queens­land dress­in­groom has plenty of for­mer Syd­neysiders who have em­braced a bet­ter life north of the bor­der, in­clud­ing new coach Phil Jaques and bats­man Peter For­rest.

Khawaja, with nine Tests to his name, sees no prob­lem with be­ing Cap­tain Ma­roon in cricket sea­son yet cheer­ing for the Blues dur­ing the NRL’s show­piece.

“It’s called State of Ori­gin, not State of Wher­ever You Are Now,’’ Khawaja said with a laugh.

“I’m pretty sure Phil Jaques and Peter For­rest feel the same in that re­gard.

“I never thought I would move away from NSW but I was ex­cited to get the op­por­tu­nity in Queens­land and now I’m ready for the mas­sive re­spon­si­bil­ity of cap­tain­ing the Bulls.’’

With James Hopes step­ping aside from the cap­taincy, the Bulls will be left in good hands un­der the guid­ance of 28-year-old Khawaja who is no man’s fool.

The left-handed bats­man was the youngest first-grade cap­tain for Syd­ney club Rand­wick, at age 20, and was im­pres­sive as Aus­tralia A cap­tain on a re­cent tour of In­dia.

The qual­i­fied com­mer­cial pi­lot will not be fly­ing by the seat of his pants as he leads the Bulls into bat­tle for the first time this sum­mer.

“I want the Bulls play­ers to en­joy their cricket and for us to pro­duce as many Aus­tralian play­ers as we can,’’ Khawaja said.

“If we can achieve that and win a few tro­phies along the way, I will be very happy.

“Away from the field, I have my com­mer­cial pi­lot’s li­cence but I have lost my in­stru­ment rat­ing so I don’t get to fly much these days.

“But I still have a lot of fun at home with the flight sim­u­la­tor.’’

In a new era of op­por­tu­nity for Aus­tralian crick­eters, Khawaja ad­mit­ted he was miffed to miss out on Aus­tralia’s ODI squad which is play­ing in Eng­land.

But he is in con­tention for one of the Test bat­ting slots va­cated by the re­tired Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers and the axed Shane Wat­son.

Khawaja is one of a trio of Queens­land bats­men in­clud­ing Joe Burns and Chris Lynn who are vy­ing for spots in the first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba, start­ing on Novem­ber 5.

“It’s a great time for all the young­sters in Aus­tralian cricket and blokes like me,’’ Khawaja said. “At the end of the day, if you are scor­ing runs then ev­ery­thing else will take care of it­self.’’

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