31 Dec 2012

Khawaja can be dominant like Clarke: Gayle

3:16 pm on 31 December 2012

The West Indian powerhouse Chris Gayle believes Sydney Thunder teammate Usman Khawaja can emulate Michael Clarke's rise to the top of world cricket if he is given another chance in the Test team.

With the imminent retirement of Michael Hussey leaving a sizable gap in Australia's middle order, Khawaja has been thrust back into the spotlight as a proposed replacement.

The 26-year-old left-hander is in fine touch, scoring the third most runs in the Sheffield Shield this summer while also peeling off an unbeaten 66 in the Thunder's four-wicket loss to the Sydney Sixers in their Big Bash League Twenty20 game last night.

Khawaja played just six Tests before being unceremoniously dumped for failing to ignite the top order after averaging 29.22, with a top score of 65 in a brief stint peppered with scores in the 20s.

But Thunder teammate Gayle sees a bright future for Khawaja, likening his anticipated Test return to that of captain Clarke who was dropped in late 2005 only to return and develop into the world's number one batsman.

Khawaja is on standby for Clarke for the third Test against Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground starting on Thursday, which will be Hussey's last.