Waugh insists Aussies stick with failing batsmen

Australia

Former captain Steve Waugh has implored the Australian selectors to retain the left-handed Usman Khawaja, right-handed Steven Smith and all-rounder Shane Watson for the fifth and final Ashes Test.

Former captain Steve Waugh has implored the Australian selectors to retain the left-handed Usman Khawaja, right-handed Steven Smith and all-rounder Shane Watson for the fifth and final Ashes Test.

While the bowlers have impressed recently, epitomised by seamer Ryan Harris' seven-for in Durham, spinner Nathan Lyon's solid return and fast bowler Peter Siddle's key breakthroughs, the bulk of the batsmen have consistently failed.

Only captain Michael Clarke and opener Chris Rogers have managed to successfully combat a host attack spearheaded by the in-form Stuart Broad, whose Man of the Match haul of 11 for 121 at Chester-le-Street resigned the Australians to a three-nil series defeat.

Coach Darren Lehmann has publicly stated that nobody, except Rogers and Clarke, are guaranteed a berth in the XI for next week's final fixture at the Oval in London. Waugh, however, begged to differ.

"Look at Phil Hughes, he has been up and down the order and has been dropped three or four times in 20 Tests. That doesn't give you much confidence," Waugh told the <i>Australian Broadcasting Corporation</i>. late on Tuesday.

"Khawaja is another example. If you've got the axe hanging over your head always it is really hard to relax and play your natural game. The selectors have got to say, 'We're going to go through some tough times, but these are the six or seven batsmen we believe in and we're going to back them even if they don't succeed straight away.'"

The right-handed Waugh played 168 Test matches between 1985 and 2004, scoring 10,927 runs at the impressive average of 51.06, including 32 centuries and 50 half-centuries. His record against England was particularly fruitful, resulting in 3,200 runs in 46 matches – on the back of 10 tons and 15-half-tons.

"It took a long while for me to get it right as well. But I had the benefit of getting it wrong. Right now, the selectors need to pick and stick and show confidence in players – and hopefully win the final game," he concluded.

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