Apr 222013
 

Usman Khawaja Shaun Marsh

In contention … Khawaja and Marsh are battling it out for one Ashes spot. Source: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / AAP

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

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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 League 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 will be named on Wednesday and if Khawaja’s name is not read out, it will be back to square one for the former New South Wales 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.

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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,” Fawad said, 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 a 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.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan will join Fox Sports for our coverage of the Ashes. Watch the whole series, starting with the first Test on July 10, LIVE and in HIGH DEFINITION on Fox Sports.

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