Usman Khawaja’s ninth Test century lifted Australia to an imposing 416 for 8 declared before the England openers survived a nervous five overs to be 13 without loss at the end of the second day of the fourth Ashes Test.
Playing his first Test since 2019 and only in the team because of Travis Head’s positive COVID-19 test, Khawaja made the most of the opportunity. The left-handed batter shared a century partnership with Steve Smith and anchored Australia’s innings with his 137 off 260 balls (13 fours) after the England bowlers fought back with the second new ball on Thursday. “I have put a lot of hard work in,” Khawaja said after the day’s play.
“[I have worked for] a lot of time behind the scenes that people don’t see. You never take anything for granted. [I was] never sure I was going to represent Australia again, never mind scoring a hundred. I am very grateful for another opportunity,” added Khawaja.
England pacer Stuart Broad took 5/101 and went a long way to vindicating his return to the team after being omitted for the third Test in Melbourne. At stumps, both English openers Haseeb Hameed and Zak Crawley were unbeaten on two, with the latter surviving a catch off a no-ball from Aussie left-arm quick Mitchell Starc.
The 35-year-old Khawaja completed his century from 201 balls in the final over before tea. He celebrated by holding both arms aloft, raising and pointing his bat toward his team and family members at the historic Members Stand in the Sydney Cricket Ground before embracing skipper Pat Cummins mid-pitch.
Khawaja, who also passed 3,000 Test runs in this innings, was eventually bowled by Broad after close to seven hours at the crease and left to a standing ovation from the near 25,000 crowd. He had a reprieve, on 30, when he was dropped by Joe Root off Jack Leach’s bowling but it was a rare blemish in what was a masterful century.
Earlier, No.4 Smith (67 off 141 balls, 5 fours) compiled his 33rd half-century off 116 balls and, on the way, passed Justin Langer’s career record of 7,696 runs to become Australia’s sixth-highest scorer in the longest format.
Brief scores: Australia 416/8 decl. in 134 overs (U Khawaja 137, S Smith 67, M Harris 38, M Starc 34*, S Broad 5/101) vs England 13/0 in 5 overs.