Australia A Tour of England - Men's
Wade, Head tons lead way for Australian XI
Matthew Wade underlined his red-hot form as he and Travis Head both posted centuries on day one of their match against the England Lions
Sam Ferris in Canterbury
15 July 2019, 08:00 AM AEST
Travis Head and Matt Wade boosted their Ashes chances with a superb century each on day one of the Australian XI's first-class clash with England Lions in Canterbury.
Head scored an unbeaten 130 while Wade posted 114 to propel the tourists to 4-362 at stumps having been sent in by Lions captain Lewis Gregory.
The pair came together shortly after the lunch break and were separated 219-runs later when wade was dismissed, out lbw to England left-arm seamer Sam Curran with the second new ball.
It was an impressive stand that paid ultimate respect to the threatening balls delivered by the Lions attack but was savage on anything that missed the mark as Head and Wade combined for 35 boundaries.
With Trevor Hohns confirming on match eve the National Selection Panel are aiming to pick 16 players for the Ashes, it means there could be only six or seven batting spots up for grabs.
Head, the incumbent Test No.5 with eight straight Tests under his belt, could almost be locked in after today's innings, which will continue on day two having already faced 190 balls.
Wade, however, hasn't played a Test since September 2017 but is perhaps the most in-form Australian batsman in the country next to David Warner
The Tasmanian scored 1021 runs in the Sheffield Shield last summer, blasted two one-day centuries for Australia A this tour – including the fastest List A hundred by an Australian – and showed he can adapt his game between formats with today's sublime knock.
Wade has said his best chance for Ashes selection is if the selectors choose him as a reserve wicketkeeper-batsman, but with the form he's shown in the past 12 months he wouldn't look out of place if picked as a specialist batsman.
The way Head banished anything pitched short through the off-side and Wade toyed with former Test spinner Jack Leach with reverse sweeps would have delighted Hohns watching on from the stands.
Head and Wade are not the first Australian batmen to reach triple figures on tour – that title belongs to openers Joe Burns and Marcs Harris, who each posted hundreds against Sussex last week.
The top-order duo were not able to replicate their efforts from Arundel against a disciplined bowling attack that made the visiting batsmen play on the front foot for all but a handful of deliveries in the first hour.
Burns was the first to go, trapped lbw by Lions captain Lewis Gregory for 19, and the right-armer should have had No.3 Kurtis Patterson in his next over if James Bracey had held on to a chance at third slip.
Patterson and Harris put on 49 before Gregory brought himself backing into the attack and removed the Victorian opener for 34, caught at slip by Ollie Robinson with less than 10 minutes until the lunch break.
Left-hander Patterson tripled his total time at the crease on tour to more than three hours shortly after lunch but his promising innings was cut short on 32 when he was bowled by Jamie Porter.
That was the last joy the hosts would taste for some time as Head and Wade knuckled down for their marathon stand.
While Head's strike rate hovered around 70 for most of the day, Wade was watchful early on.
Having seen Head through to his half-century, Wade, then on 15 from 47 balls, sent four of his next seven deliveries to the boundary to ignite his innings.
By the time tea rolled around he'd moved past 50 as part of a century-stand with Head.
Head offered a life on 84 when he was put down by Robinson at first slip off the bowling of Porter, who let out a frustrated "No!" when the chance was missed.
Head brushed off the blip to post his ninth first-class five overs later from 147 balls with 17 boundaries, the pick of the bunch a cut shot that reached the backward point boundary before the bowler had completed his follow through.
Wade's increased scoring rate saw him reach his own hundred hot on the heels of Head. The Tasmanian needed 122 deliveries and struck 15 fours and six in less than three hours at the crease.
The actions of Robinson bowling off-spin couldn't dislodge the left-handed Australians but Curran with the second new ball did, striking with his seventh delivery with the fresh rock.
Head and Mitch Marsh (24 not out from 29 balls) calmly negotiated the final 30 minutes of the day to walk off with their side in a dominant position at stumps.
Australia XI: Joe Burns, Marcus Harris, Kurtis Patterson, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (c & wk), Michael Neser, Chris Tremain, Jackson Bird, Jon Holland.
England Lions: Zac Crawley, Dom Sibley, Sam Hain, Sam Northeast, James Bracey, Ben Foakes (wk), Sam Curran, Lewis Gregory (c), Olli Robinson, Jack Leach, Jamie Porter.
Australia A tour of the UK
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Australia A one-day squad: Travis Head (c), Matthew Wade, Will Pucovski, Peter Handscomb, Mitch Marsh (vc), D'Arcy Short, Kurtis Patterson, Ashton Agar, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Sean Abbott, Andrew Tye
Australia A four-day squad: Tim Paine (c), Marcus Harris, Kurtis Patterson, Will Pucovski, Travis Head (vc), Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade, Mitch Marsh, Michael Neser, Jon Holland, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Chris Tremain
July 13-16: Australian XI v England Lions, Canterbury
July 23-26: Australia v Australia A, Hampshire