'It's Never Easy': Usman Khawaja Stands By Tim Paine After DRS Debacle
Usman Khawaja believes the Decision Review System is one of the toughest aspects of Test cricket, defending Tim Paine as he prepared to lead Australia during an Ashes tour game in Derby.
Paine headlines the list of Australia's Test stars being rested from the three-day match starting on Thursday.
Alex Carey has been summoned to keep wicket for the clash, while vice-captains Pat Cummins and Travis Head have also been rested, so Khawaja will serve as stand-in skipper.
Paine's recent output with the bat and his wasting of both reviews during a thrilling finish to the third Test have been heavily scrutinised in recent days.
Khawaja feels too much has been made of the wicketkeeper's lack of success with referrals this series - and indeed since he replaced Steve Smith as skipper.
"It's probably one of the toughest parts of the game. Sometimes you're on fire with it," Khawaja said. "Other times, you just get stuff wrong. I've seen both happen to all different captains, it's just how it is.
"It's never easy. You have 15 seconds to make a decision," he continued.
Australia's approach to potential referrals, like that of many teams, is for the captain, keeper and bowler to have a quick debrief before making a decision.
However, in Australia's case that is a two-man operation.
Justin Langer admitted the team's DRS struggles were a concern but the coach has been thrilled with the way Paine has shelved his personal disappointment and tried to lift spirits since Headingley - spelling out the bigger picture that is a five-Test series locked up at 1-1.
That attitude was on display again on Wednesday, when Paine went barefoot for a squad yoga session that was taken by Cameron Bancroft, then was among the most vocal players in a spirited game of touch football.
Khawaja is opening alongside Marcus Harris against Derbyshire, with their partnership also serving as somewhat of as selection shootout for the right to partner David Warner at the top of the order in the fourth Test.
Khawaja, likely to get the nod ahead of Harris, has made a start in every Test but is yet to reach 50 in the series.
"I actually feel really good batting, I just haven't made any big runs lately which is obviously frustrating," the veteran said. "You want your top order to score big runs and we've fallen short.
"It's not like I'm in no-man's territory. The most important thing is to capitalise on those starts."
Khawaja has captained Australia A in the past but this is his first time in charge of a national side.
"Every time you play for Australia it's an honour. Captaining is another honour," he said.