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Usman Khawaja leaves Sydney Thunder for family reasons

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"It is for family reasons, and while I'm leaving, people who know me realise a big part of my heart will always remain with Thunder." © Getty
Australia batsman Usman Khawaja has ended his long-standing association with Sydney Thunder from the very first year of the Big Bash League in 2011, with one year still left on his current contract, owing to family reasons. Khawaja, who is team's leading run-getter with 1818 runs in 59 fixtures, called it the toughest call he had to make. He's made it because he wants to stay close to his hometown of Brisbane with the impending arrival of his second child with wife Rachel.

"I hate talking about the decision I've made... it's the toughest call I've made as a cricketer because Sydney Thunder, the players, the coaching and support staff, and the club's supporters mean so much to me," Khawaja said in a statement.

"However, it is for family reasons, and while I'm leaving, people who know me realise a big part of my heart will always remain with Thunder. I don't want people to think I've cut my ties with Sydney Thunder because I'll always care about the club, the players, the entire organisation."

"A part of that is because I believe I helped shape Thunder from the start. In many ways Sydney Thunder is, to me, like a baby I've watched grow and develop," he added.

Cricket New South Wales' Head of Male Cricket, Michael Klinger revealed the board offered Khawaja a new, competitive contract but also reckoned he respected the reason for his difficult decision.

"It's disappointing because Usman is such a well-respected member of Thunder," said Klinger. "Sydney Thunder and CNSW definitely wanted him to stay, and we offered a highly competitive contract.However, we appreciate Usman's decision has been made for his family, and we respect and support that.

"Usman leaves Sydney Thunder with our best wishes for the future. He's a foundation player who leaves a legacy as a great competitor and player, a strong leader, and someone who actively helped Thunder become the club he always believed it could be," Klinger added.

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