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Usman Khwaja to miss Big Bash opener

Source - Cricket Australia

Usman Khawaja will have to wait to press his claims for a Boxing Day recall after he was ruled out of Sydney Thunder's opening KFC Big Bash League match on Thursday. The Thunder medical staff, in conjunction with Cricket Australia, have instead identified the December 20 clash against the Melbourne Stars at the MCG as Khawaja's likely return to cricket following a hamstring injury that forced him to miss Australia last two Tests.

Khawaja, who was included in Australia's 13-man squad for the Boxing Day Test against the West Indies, will now have only one innings to prove his fitness and form. Bupa Support Staff Head Coach Darren Lehmann told cricket.com.au's Stumps show that Khawaja will only come into calculations if he is deemed fully fit. Khawaja's potential return also creates a selection headache for Lehmann and his fellow National Selection Panel members, given the strong form of Shaun Marsh – the man who originally came into the XI as Khawaja's replacement.Marsh's match-winning 49 in the Adelaide day-night Test and mammoth innings of 182 in Hobart, together with Khawaja's potential return, has put pressure on opening batsman Joe Burns.

Burns started the international summer in a blaze of glory, scoring 71 and 129 in Brisbane, but has since produced scores of 40, 0, 14, 11, 33 in his past five innings. If Burns makes way for Khawaja, Lehmann says the latter could slot straight in at the top of the order.

Usman's first got to be fit. If he's not fit he won't play, there's no doubt about that.

- Lehmann told Stumps.

Meanwhile, Mitchell Starc is today undergoing surgery on his injured right ankle that will rule the fast bowler out of the remainder of the summer, Australia's away tour to New Zealand and potentially the World T20 in India in March.

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