Cricket 2023: Australia Vs South Africa, Usman Khawaja denied first double century by declaration

Aussie opener Usman Khawaja was denied a shot at a maiden Test double hundred in cruel scenes after Australia declared overnight to have a shot at winning the third Test.

Aussie skipper Pat Cummins was left with the brutal conundrum after rain affected the first two days, before day three was completely washed out with Australia 4/475 with Khawaja on 195 not out — his highest Test score.

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Even before day three was washed out, there was talk about when the declaration would come but when play was abandoned and then day four couldn’t start until 1.45pm AEDT, the Aussie skipper’s hands were tied.

Cummins had reportedly been willing to give Khawaja a chance to reach the milestone.

And even if he gave Khawaja an over or two to bring up the milestone, Cummins would have lost 20 minutes with last years’ draw against England with one wicket left still fresh in his memory as Australia ran out of time.

Instead he joins Frank Worrell in 1960 when was declared on on 197 not out, and Sachin Tendulkar in 2004 who was on 194 not out.

But rubbing salt into Khawaja’s wounds — he is the first player to miss out on a maiden double century because of a declaration while in the 190s.

While many will turn their ire on captain Pat Cummins, The Daily Telegraphhas another culprit, blaming the NRMA logo emblazoned on the wet weather covers.

It reported a leak through the covers which they had been asked to used to advertise Cricket Australia partner NRMA Insurance.

Although minor a hole opened in one of the seams around the logo, which is believed to have added extra work for the ground staff and stopped an earlier period of play in the morning session before a shower.

The article also touched on alternatives for the covers, as the UK use raised covers, while in Sri Lanka, the whole field is covered in order to protect the outfield.

English cricket great Isa Guha was incredibly critical of the coverage on the ground.

“You would think they could invest in some better covers,” Guha said on Fox.

“You have the hover covers at Lord’s that come off really quickly and then at The Oval it literally covers the whole of the ground across the square for moments like this where bowlers are looking around at the pitch ends where it can be a bit dangerous.

“I’m pretty staggered that it’s not better equipped.”

But regardless of who or what is to blame, Khawaja’s highest score will go into the books as 195 not out — and fans felt for the Aussie opener.

6NewsAU managing director Leonardo Puglisi tweeted: “Usman Khawaja has every right to be pissed off right now – it was gonna be a draw anyway, let the poor man make 5 more runs.”

The Western Advocate’s Alexander Grant added: “The match is heading for a draw. Why not give Khawaja the chance to reach an individual milestone?”

Chaser co-founder Dom Knight wrote: “If the Test is drawn, Khawaja will have every right to be filthy surely”.

Sports journalist Liam Warren posted: “Gotta feel for Khawaja. Had a double ton in his sights only for weather to take it away.”

However, the commentators believed the declaration was the right call.

Former Test quick Damien Fleming told SEN: “I’d declare. We need to take 20 wickets.”

“I can’t see the point in Australia continuing to bat despite the milestone,” Kerry O’Keeffe said on Fox Cricket.

Yesterday, Khawaja himself said it would be “pretty harsh” if Cummins didn’t let him try to get the milestone.

“I’m not the captain, I don’t make those decisions,” Khawaja said of the call whether or not to declare.

“I think it would be pretty harsh if he (Cummins) bowled straight away, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

“(Cummins has) been making a few jokes around the change rooms (about declaring) … taking the mickey out of me.

“We could go out there and get a few more runs really quickly, or we could declare pretty much straight away.

“It’s obviously a decision he’ll have to make tomorrow, decide on what the weather’s doing and how he wants to play out this game.

“I think there will still be an opportunity to try and win this game, so I can’t imagine us just going ‘oh, we’ll bat all day tomorrow’.

“If you don’t give yourself a crack at trying to win the game at least, you’ve done a disservice to the actual game.

“But obviously we need to bowl at some stage if we want to try and win the game.”

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