Australia’s two-time World Cup-winning captain Ricky Ponting believes experienced Test cricketer Usman Khawaja faces a tough uphill battle to return into the reckoning for the national side. Ponting believes Khawaja was axed from the Australian setup due to his inconsistency and lamented that we ‘never saw the absolute best’ of the talented batsman on the international stage. However, the former Aussie skipper is not willing to write him off yet.

The left-handed Khawaja was the highest-profile player to lose his Cricket Australia national contract at the end of last month. He was dropped from the Australian squad midway through last year’s Ashes. Khawaja defended his axing defiantly and claimed that he remains ‘one of the top six batsmen in the country.’

Ponting, however, hoped that Khawaja can score loads of runs in the domestic circuit and make an international comeback. “One thing I know, you never write great players off,” Ponting told ABC Grandstand.

“He’s got every opportunity once domestic cricket does start this summer, and all he can do is represent Queensland, get a truckload of runs under his belt and wait for another opportunity to come along.”

“If it does I’m sure he wouldn’t let anyone down if he gets a chance to play again.”

But Punter declared it would be tough for the 33-year-old to return and bemoaned his inconsistency for Test side.

“I honestly think now he’s going to find it difficult (to get back into the Australian team) and I feel for him,” Ponting added.

“I love Usman Khawaja, I got really close to him over the last 10 years since he made his debut and I talk to him quite regularly.

“I’ve always felt he’s a very good player and we probably never saw the absolute best of him at international cricket. We saw glimpses of it, and dribs and drabs, but not the consistently good player I thought he could have been for Australia.”

Khawaja has played 44 Tests and 40 ODIs, scoring 2,887 and 1,554 runs respectively. He has eight hundreds and 14 half-centuries in Tests and two hundreds in ODIs.