Australia batsman Usman Khawaja says he is comfortable in his role at number three in the Test side, and finally feels like he belongs in the Baggy Green as he continues his sublime run of form.
Khawaja has scored four centuries and a half ton in his last six Test innings, including in the current match against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve. He was also the Big Bash League's top run scorer this season.
When asked what prompted his purple patch, given his inconsistent efforts over the years, the batsman was unable to pinpoint a reason, but said he'd finally found his feet under the coaching of Darren Lehmann.
Khawaja said on the CA website: “I can't put my finger on one thing. I'm not sure if there is a one thing.
“But I always felt when I first played for Australia that I was sort of playing for my spot a little bit. I never really felt like I was in the team, felt like I was sort of looking over my shoulder.
“This time it came around, I scored 100 in that first game (against New Zealand at the ‘Gabba) and that sort of relieved the pressure a little bit.
“But even before I played that first game, Boof (Lehmann) had a chat to me and just told me to relax. He said I'd get a fair crack at it (Test cricket), so that kind of helped too."
He added that he felt comfortable around his team-mates, many of who he's known since childhood, and felt part of the core group of players now.
He said: "It's nice to have a few friendly faces around. I grew up playing with Steve Smith, David Warner and Josh Hazlewood at New South Wales.
“Obviously Joe Burns now that I’m at Queensland … and Boof, who was coach at Queensland (before taking on the national job). I'm not saying that's the reason I've come back and scored runs, but it's been nice to come back and see familiar faces.
“I had fun even before, when I played Test cricket I obviously didn't set the world on fire. But it's just been a really relaxed atmosphere, and that’s what you want when you're playing at the highest level because there's enough pressure and whatever stuff goes on around it.
“You just want to get into the best position and best head-space possible. It helps that we've played some pretty decent cricket since I've come back, we've won a lot of games which always helps too.
“So there's a whole range of factors I think.”