USMAN Khawaja is set to split with his long-term manager as the talented batsman confronts a career crossroads in the aftermath of Australian cricket’s culture crisis.
Khawaja, one of the four players axed for the third Test in India after failing to submit a written assignment, has reached a critical point in his career as he struggles to convince the national selectors that he has the work ethic for international cricket.
His suspension, coming after he was certain to play in Mohali, is a significant setback which has been compounded by off-field issues as he seeks an early exit from his arrangement with his Sydney-based agent Daniel Zammit, who also manages rugby league players.
Zammit raised eyebrows when he backed team management’s decision to axe the quartet in a radio interview when he said said cricket lagged behind the NRL in its professionalism.
It’s understood Khawaja was already seeking to part ways with Zammit before his manager spoke to Radio 2GB.
"I dare a young rugby league player to say 'I forgot' (to do my homework). Hell and damnation would come down on their heads," Zammit said when news of the punishment broke.
"(But) cricket is different, you're pushing against the ocean. (Professional cricketers) have been taught from a very young age they are special.
"We shouldn’t be surprised by what happened in India, cricket has considered itself separate to other sports... For Mickey Arthur, who is a very strong coach, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back."
For good measure, Zammit added: "The entire cricket universe is soft in the belly compared to other sports."
Khawaja has not played a Test since late 2011 and faces a stern challenge to win the confidence of his national team bosses, despite the high regard in which he is held by those in power in his adopted state of Queensland.
He is not the first young batsman to have sought a new adviser as he seeks to reinvigorate his career; Phillip Hughes made a similar move in 2010, but retained Neil D’Costa as his personal batting coach.