Everyone thinks the big Usman Khawaja development from the South Africa match was that he twanged his hammy. Despite it being ‘as good a strain as you can get’ according to Justin Langer, Khawaja has been twung out of the tournament.
But that wasn’t the big Usman Khawaja development. That wasn’t the big Usman Khawaja development at all. Did you see his dismissal? His dismissal was the big development. Watch that dismissal and tell me it wasn’t ‘a sign’.
Khawaja, who was already injured, returned to the crease with four-and-a-bit overs of Australia’s innings remaining. Facing a delivery from Kagiso Rabada, he sauntered way beyond his off stump, turned to face the bowler and deftly ramped the ball straight into his own Zing bails.
The Zings zang and Khawaja was no more. It was very weird, very fine, and clearly – clearly – a sign.
But a sign of what?
Australia have been a very odd team in this World Cup with their progress so far somehow both serene and wince-inducingly awkward. They’ve floated clankingly into the semi-final, like the ghost of a knight clad in weighty, cumbersome armour.
Just as an out-of-form batsman becomes more and more ‘due’ with every failure, so Australia must surely at some point have to face a bit of cosmological redress.
Australia beat England after making 285-7 and they beat New Zealand after making 243-9. For a while they had Shaun Marsh in their squad. At some point they’re going to stop getting away with these things. At some point their luck will turn.
Injuries are a small part of this, but injuries happen to every team. Injuries represent only a very minor redistribution of fortune. Ramping the ball into your own stumps on the other hand? That’s highly unusual.
That’s not a debt being repaid. That’s a debt being claimed. That’s fortune sending in the heavies to actively extract some of what it’s owed.
Khawaja’s wicket was just one payment. On the evidence of this tournament, plenty more payments are still to be made.
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