Apr 222013

Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh

Usman Khawaja (L) and Shaun Marsh (R) are battling it out for the last spot in the Ashes squad. Source: AP

QUEENSLAND Bull Usman Khawaja is facing stiff competition for an Ashes berth from West Australian batsman Shaun Marsh.

Khawaja is far from being the flavour of the month with Australian selectors, who had reservations about him even before he was one of four players axed for a Test in India for disciplinary reasons.

However, it is a surprise that Marsh is the name on selectors lips after the left-hander averaged just 19 in the Sheffield Shield last season.

Marsh’s stunning Big Bash form, combined with promising signs of improvement late in the Shield season, have selectors talking.

Another thing counting against Khawaja’s Ashes selection is a lack of top-level cricket last summer, when he spent much of the season as a travelling Australian reserve.

It is a 50-50 call between he and Marsh – and that fact alone is another wake-up call to Khawaja, who several years ago looked to be the next big thing.

Australia’s Ashes squad could be named as soon as this week and if Khawaja’s name is not read out, it will be back to square one for the former NSW batsman, who came to Queensland to resurrect his career.

One cricketer whose star is on the rise is Pakistani asylum-seeker Fawad Ahmed, who is dreaming of becoming the latest Australian legspinner to torment England’s batsmen.

Watching Warnie: Fawad dreams of Aussie start

Fawad, who remains hopeful of the Australian Immigration Department fast-tracking his application for citizenship before the Ashes series, has been spending every night watching YouTube clips of Shane Warne’s greatest deliveries.

“Every night I am looking for those Warney classic moments,” said Fawad, in Brisbane for a spin camp.

“I Iearnt a lot from that, because I never had the internet or facilities to watch YouTube when I was in Pakistan.”

Fawad has dodged kidnappers and death threats in Pakistan but crashing through Australian Government red-tape will be tough challenge.

The 31-year-old admits he is unlikely to be named in Australia’s Ashes squad but he hopes to be a late addition.

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