Usman Khawaja anchored the Thunder innings against the Stars, with 11 boundaries in his 66 not out. Photo: Getty Images
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 (438) in the Sheffield Shield this summer while also peeling off a crisp, unbeaten 66 in the Thunder's four-wicket loss to the Sydney Sixers in their Big Bash League Twenty20 game on Sunday 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 No.1 batsman.
"He definitely has a bright Test career ahead of him," Gayle said.
"If given the chance, I can't see any reason why he can't score runs and be dominant like a Michael Clarke in the future.
"Once he gets his chance, hopefully he'll make use of it."
Khawaja is on standby for Clarke (hamstring) for the third Test against Sri Lanka at the SCG starting on Thursday, which will be Hussey's last.