Ricky Ponting believes it will be "difficult" for Usman Khawaja to force his way back into the Australia Test side.

Khawaja was a notable absentee when Cricket Australia announced its list of centrally contracted players last month.

The 33-year-old batsman has not played for his country since the drawn Ashes series in England last year and Marnus Labuschagne has looked very much at home at number three.

Former Australia captain Ponting thinks we may have seen the last of Khawaja in the longest format, despite the left-hander saying he believes he is among the top six batsmen in the country.

Ponting told ABC Grandstand: "I honestly think now he's going to find it difficult [to regain his place] and I feel for him.

"I love Usman Khawaja, I got really close to him over the last 10 years since he made his debut and I talk to him quite regularly.

"I've always felt he's a very good player and we probably never saw the absolute best of him at international cricket.

"We saw glimpses of it, and dribs and drabs, but not the consistently good player I thought he could have been for Australia."

Usman Khawaja has revealed he is "very shocked" at the financial situation Cricket Australia (CA) finds itself in due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

CA stood down the vast majority of its staff on reduced pay from April 27 until the end of the financial year, with concerns over when international action will be able to resume.

Australia are due to stage the ICC T20 World Cup, as well as welcome India for a lucrative tour, yet their home schedule could be at risk because of the global health crisis.

Admitting it is disappointing how the situation has played out, Khawaja hopes CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) can work together to come through what he feels is a cash-flow problem that could have been avoided.

"I was very shocked. I knew our projections for revenue were still very high and I think they still are, depending on what happens with the India series," he told Fox Sports.

"It's a bit confusing. I don't have all the financial information in front of me, but it seems like it's more of a cash-flow problem at the moment.

"There's obviously a little bit of mismanagement there somewhere, with the portfolio and putting a lot of money into the share market.

"To me that's Business 101. To make sure you have enough cash reserves if c**p hits the fan.

"So I'm a little bit disappointed on that front ... but what's been done is done now, so it's just our responsibility as CA and ACA to work through this."

Khawaja was absent from the list of players to be handed national contracts by CA this week, having not played a Test since being dropped during the 2019 Ashes in England.

The left-hander, who averages over 40 in the longest format, still believes he is one of the best six batsmen in the country and feels the criticism of his play against spin is unjustified.

"Without sounding arrogant, I still feel like I'm one of the top six batsmen in the country," Khawaja said.

"My playing against spin has been right up there as some of the best in the county. Bar maybe Steve Smith, who is an absolute genius.

"But the most important thing is to score runs."

Australia national selector Trevor Hohns feels Shaun Marsh's international career is probably over, while he labelled Usman Khawaja "unlucky".

Khawaja and Marsh were among those to miss out on national contracts, with a 20-man list named by Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday.

Marsh, 36, last played for Australia in mid-2019, having featured in 38 Tests, 73 ODIs and 15 Twenty20s for the country.

But Hohns said Marsh's time playing for Australia was probably over.

"Shaun, you never say never, and I'll never say never of course, but I think Shaun, I think he's now 36 or 37, is probably past representing Australia," he told a video conference on Thursday.

"We've spoken to Shaun regularly over the last 12 months and he understands the situation. He's been a wonderful player in domestic cricket, he's played some very, very good innings for Australia in Test match cricket and he'll be sorely missed.

"But what is good is that he's continuing to play the game and as a senior player playing domestic cricket around Australia, he's got a big role to play and as I suggested it's great to see players like that continuing to play and put back to state cricket."

As for Khawaja, Hohns said leaving out the left-hander was the toughest decision.

The 33-year-old batsman has not played for Australia since being dropped during last year's Ashes series.

"Usman is one of the unlucky ones, there's no doubt," Hohns said. "As we know, Usman didn't play cricket for Australia last year at all in any format after being dropped from the Ashes series.

"If I'm looking at Test cricket, Usman's form in domestic Shield cricket didn't demand that he was chosen for Australia and I think that's pretty fair. One-day cricket, he didn't play for Australia despite being a very good performer in the Marsh Cup early in the season, but the area that he operates in, like a couple of our unlucky omissions, is up the top and we're pretty well looked after up there with [Aaron] Finch, [David] Warner, [Steve] Smith and now Marnus Labuschagne so it was a difficult time for him and then of course in T20 cricket he hasn't played for Australia for some time.

"Usman obviously received rankings in a couple of those forms of the game, but those rankings weren't sufficient enough to get him into the contract list in the end."

Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh were among the players to miss out on national contracts from Cricket Australia (CA) for 2020-21.

Khawaja, 33, was dropped from the Test team during last year's Ashes, while his last ODI was also in 2019.

Marsh, 36, has been out of international action since mid-2019 and was also left off a 20-player list named on Thursday.

"As Mitch Marsh and Matthew Wade have proven there are always plenty of opportunities for those who have missed out to be reselected by performing consistently at domestic level; and importantly to make the most of any opportunity that comes their way at international level," Australia national selector Trevor Hohns said in a statement.

"As is always the case there are unlucky omissions but, however, because you are not on the list does not mean you cannot be selected to represent Australia."

Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Burns, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh, Kane Richardson and Ashton Agar were called up to the nationally contracted list.

It continues Labuschagne's incredible rise, with the right-hander averaging 63.43 in 14 Tests and 50.83 in seven ODIs.

"We feel all deserve their inclusion recognising the performances of those players in the past 12 months and, as importantly, what they can offer in the next 12 months," Hohns said.

"Marnus' rise has been meteoric and well documented, Joe has been a good Test match player, Ashton Agar’s form in T20 internationals has been exceptional, while Kane Richardson has been outstanding in the 20-over and one-day games.

"Matthew Wade's summer showed he is not only a tough but a good Test player for us. His form extended into white-ball cricket late in the summer, earning him well-deserved call-ups to the one-day and T20 Australian squads.

"After missing the list last year Mitch Marsh's recent form showed he has a lot of international cricket ahead of him as a batting all-rounder. Mitch proved this with his man-of-the-match performance against New Zealand at the SCG in the last game Australia played and a five-wicket haul in the last Test match he played on the Ashes tour."

Cricket Australia contracted player list: Ashton Agar, Joe Burns, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

Alex Hales and Usman Khawaja blew the Hobart Hurricanes attack away before Jonathan Cook struck four times as Sydney Thunder won the Big Bash League Eliminator by 57 runs.

The Hurricanes hit form at the right time to make the play-offs, but they crashed out with a crushing defeat at Blundstone Arena on Thursday.

It will be the Thunder who face Adelaide Strikers in the Knockout clash at Adelaide Oval on Saturday after they racked up 197-5 and Hobart were all out for 140 in reply.

In-form batsman Hales, the second-highest run-scorer in the competition, blasted 60 off 37 balls and Khawaja bludgeoned a 34-ball 54 in an onslaught of 103 for the first wicket inside 10 overs.

Hobart never really looked like chasing that down with D'Arcy Short gone for 37 and Matthew Wade just 14, Cook dismissing both openers and finishing with outstanding figures of 4-21.

Chris Morris claimed 3-27 and Daniel Sams, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, 2-24 in an impressive display from Sydney in the field as they eased through to end George Bailey's career.

THUNDER OPENERS MAKE LIGHTNING START

Hales and Khawaja got the Thunder off to a dream start after Callum Ferguson won the toss, setting about Clive Rose, James Faulkner, Scott Boland and Short.

Back-to-back overs from Rose and Boland cost 17 runs apiece, the latter put onto the roof at deep square leg by Hales after Khawaja was the first to a half-century from only 30 balls.

Faulkner struck Khawaja bang in front with a slower ball in the 10th over before Hales also moved to 50 off 30 deliveries, the English opener going on to blast Qais Ahmad for his third six before falling to Boland.

 

ELLIS BRINGS SOME CALM AFTER THE STORM

Ferguson ought to have been run out when he was well set after dispatching Short for two boundaries in as many balls before Alex Ross took a liking to the spin of Rose.

Short held on when Ferguson slapped a Rose full toss to him at deep midwicket as the Thunder lost the momentum somewhat before taking 16 off the penultimate over from Faulkner

Nathan Ellis finished off his excellent spell by going for just six off the last over to record figures of 1-18 from four, but Hales and Khawaja's stand left the Hurricanes facing a huge challenge to stay in the tournament.

 

COOK COMES TO THE BOIL, BAILEY BOWS OUT

Much was resting on the shoulders of Wade and the big-hitting Short, but Cook had the captain caught behind and also saw the back of his fellow opener.

There was no explosive swansong for Bailey, retiring to become an Australia national selector, as he was sent on his way by Morris to leave Hobart with a mountain to climb at 74-4 in the ninth over.

The excellent Cook also removed Simon Milenko and cleaned up Rose in what was an emphatic win for the Thunder.

Rashid Khan's thrilling cameo was not enough to stop the Adelaide Strikers suffering their first loss of the Big Bash season against the Sydney Thunder at Adelaide Oval.

An 18-ball 40 from Rashid, which included four fours and three sixes, looked set to inspire the Strikers to a fourth straight victory on Tuesday.

However, with Adelaide needing five off the final two balls to triumph, the Afghanistan international was run out attempting an ambitious second run.

Responsibility to clinch the win subsequently fell to Wes Agar but he was unable to connect sufficiently with Chris Morris' delivery and was run out by the South African, securing a three-run triumph for the Thunder.

 

FERGUSON SETS THE TONE

The Thunder set a target of 169 for the Strikers and owed much of that to the work of Usman Khawaja (63) and Callum Ferguson (73).

The duo combined for a 73-run stand after Alex Hales (4) fell, with Ferguson racking up seven fours and two sixes in an expansive knock that saw him move top of this season's scoring charts on 229.

Those maximums came off successive Rashid deliveries, one of which was ruled a no ball, before he holed out to deep midwicket.

Peter Siddle (2-30) claimed two wickets in a final over that went for just three runs, but Ferguson's efforts ended up proving the difference.

 

WEATHERALD MILESTONE

While his opening partner Phil Salt went for a six-ball duck and the Strikers were reduced to 36-3 after 5.4 overs, Jake Weatherald ensured their chase did not entirely collapse.

He became the second Striker to reach 1,000 BBL runs, joining Travis Head, and plundered a trio of sixes off one Jonathan Cook over en route to his second fifty of the season.

However, Daniel Sams (2-32) got Weatherald on 52 with a slower delivery, and when Arjun Nair (2-19) accounted for Cameron Valente and Cameron White in the same over the hosts were in trouble at 118-7.

 

RASHID RUFFLES FEATHERS

The Strikers required 53 runs off 28 balls when Rashid walked out to the middle and he certainly looked in the mood when he launched a six that left him on his backside over deep midwicket.

His display of varied and exciting striking continued when, on the back of a four and a third six of the match, he guided a magnificent checked sweep in front of square and to the ropes.

Rashid's back-to-back fours off Morris put Adelaide in position to snatch victory in the final over, but the Thunder just about managed to hold them off and seal an enthralling win.

Alex Hales and Usman Khawaja made rapid half-centuries as Sydney Thunder beat defending champions Melbourne Renegades by six wickets at GMHBA Stadium.

The Thunder beat the much-fancied Brisbane Heat in the opening match of the tournament on Tuesday and they were too good for the Renegades in Geelong.

New signing Shaun Marsh top scored with 42 before he was brilliantly caught by Daniel Sams, who also took 2-26, as Melbourne posted 169-5 after winning the toss.

Arjun Nair claimed 2-32 to restrict the Renegades in their first match with Michael Klinger as coach and the Thunder reached their target with two balls to spare.

Hales (68 from 38 balls) and Khawaja (66 off 46) put on 99 for the first wicket to set Sydney well on their way to victory, which was secured despite impressive displays with the ball from Harry Gurney (2-26) and the wicketless Kane Richardson (0-18).

 

MARSH MAKES HIS MARK BEFORE SAMS STUNNER

Big things are expected of Marsh after he left Perth Scorchers to join the holders in a multi-year deal.

The experienced left-hander looked in great touch in his first outing for his new side, striking a six and finding the ropes five times, but he was on his way when Sams produced a stunning catch on the deep midwicket boundary to give Nair a second wicket.

Sam Harper and Aaron Finch got Melbourne off to a flyer with an opening stand of 55 from five overs, but Nair dismissed the captain after the excellent Sams saw the back of wicketkeeper-batsman Harper.

 

KHAWAJA AND HALES PUT THUNDER WELL ON COURSE

Sydney restricted the Renegades to 80 runs off their last 10 overs thanks to some disciplined bowling and it was clear the champions' total was insufficient as Khawaja and Hales piled on the runs.

The openers took the Thunder to 74 without loss at the halfway mark of the run chase, with Khawaja having much more of the strike, slog-sweeping Cameron Boyce for six and striking eight fours before falling to Gurney.

Hales took centre stage with Khawaja gone, the powerful right-hander clattering Boyce and Dan Christian into the stands prior to departing when he struck Nottinghamshire team-mate Gurney to Richardson at deep midwicket.

 

SLOPPY RENEGADES MADE TO PAY

As good as Khawaja and man-of-the-match Hales were with the bat, the Renegades did not do themselves any favours.

Skipper Finch was among those guilty of gifting the Thunder boundaries with sloppy fielding.

Alex Ross sealed victory with a fierce straight drive off the final over from Melbourne new boy Richard Gleeson, who snared Callum Ferguson lbw and ran Matt Gilkes out on debut.

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