Ashes 2021-22: Khawaja inspired by LeBron James as Australia centurion brings out 'silencer' celebration

By Sports Desk January 06, 2022

Usman Khawaja borrowed a celebration from NBA superstar LeBron James as he marked his return to Australia's Test team with a sublime century against England.

The left-hander made a magnificent 137 in Australia's 416-8 declared on day two, leaving the tourists staring at a major challenge to avoid another Ashes defeat at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Khawaja reached his second Ashes hundred after being given a life on 28 when an edge off Jack Leach grazed Jos Buttler and was dropped by England skipper Joe Root at first slip.

He celebrated with a high-knees strut and thumped his chest, copying Los Angeles Lakers star James' famous 'silencer'.

Khawaja had not featured in a Test for Australia since the dramatic Headingley loss to England in 2019, when Ben Stokes' sensational century drove the hosts to victory, so for the 35-year-old this was a moment to savour.

"It's the silencer - you probably shouldn't do it to a home crowd," said a cheery Khawaja after England closed on 13-0.

"I was so excited, everything just came up to me. I love LeBron James, so it just felt right.

"I do it mucking around with the boys all the time and if I'm playing basketball and hit a few good shots I do it, so I've had a bit of practice at it, so it just happens.

"I love Test cricket. Sometimes it feels a bit traditional for my liking, so I like to give it a bit of spark."

Australia lead 3-0 so have already retained the urn, and now they are pushing for a clean sweep of the five-match series.

Khawaja said of his near seven-hour innings: "It's pretty sweet. I wasn't expecting it. Hundreds don't come every day.

"It's a pretty tough wicket. I'm just trying to bat. I'm just trying to grind away. It's a lot of fun. I'm a bit tired, a bit lost for words. It's pretty special."

Khawaja said he had been "in a very good spot the last couple of years", despite being absent from the Australia team.

He has become a father, with his wife and daughter in the SCG crowd on Thursday, and has enjoyed his cricket despite dropping out of the Test side.

This might be a one-off recall, with Khawaja included due to Travis Head returning a positive COVID-19 test result.

"I said earlier, I've got nothing to prove to anyone," Khawaja said on beIN Sports.

"I love playing cricket, whether it's grade cricket down at my local club Valleys [Valley District], or playing for Queensland. I'm just really enjoying the game

"Getting selected in the Australian squad and then playing this game, they're all bonuses for me now, so I'm just really enjoying my life and cricket.

"Every time I go out to play for Australia it's special, and then when you score a hundred on top of that, I guess the only way to make it better is if we get a victory here."

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