Marsh One-Day Cup 2021-22
Head makes history as Redbacks end 604-day drought
A record-breaking innings from Travis Head leads South Australia to their first victory in any format of the game since before the pandemic
Andrew Ramsey at Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
13 October 2021, 08:37 PM AEST
Travis Head might not have enjoyed the most productive stint in the UK during the Australia winter, but he cites his experiences in the county game's one-day competition as a vital factor in his record-breaking knock against Queensland today.
Head blasted a career-high 230 from 127 balls to lead South Australia to a drought-breaking 67-run win in their Marsh One Day Cup match, the Redbacks first victory in any men's competition for more than 600 days.
Having lost his place in Australia's Test team and then his Cricket Australia contract shortly before he headed to England and a stint with Sussex earlier this year, his immediate returns in red-ball cricket offered him little comfort.
But come the UK limited-overs season, the left-hander began to find touch and believes he added crucial elements to his game that has led him to post centuries in two of his three innings across one-day and Shield formats since his return.
"I think I've just played it, to be pretty honest," Head said tonight when asked what the big change to his one-day game had been to prepare him for an innings like today's.
"There was a period there when I didn't play a lot of List-A cricket, I probably only played 25 to 30 games for South Australia.
"So going away to England really helped, and even though I didn’t get that big score there was still consistent scores and I felt like I was hitting the white ball really well.
"I worked really hard on my spin play, but I think that while I've played quite a bit of Big Bash over that period of two years or so, I didn't necessarily play a lot of 50-over cricket.
"So the hard work over the last period of time, perhaps we're seeing the fruits of that."
The most recent of Head's 42 one-day international appearance to date came against South Africa at Hobart in November 2018, when he laboured for 21 deliveries to score six.
Since then, nobody has scored more runs in the Marsh One Day Cup competition than his 609 runs from 10 innings and his strike rate over that period (134.73) is significantly higher than the next-fastest scorer among those to have made 250 runs or more – Queensland’s Sam Heazlett, with 484 runs at 113.6.
Head's double-century today arrived off a remarkable 114 balls (with 25 fours and seven sixes), with his second hundred coming from just 49 balls which is quicker than ex-WA keeper Luke Ronchi's 56-ball ton in 2007, which stands as the fastest single century of the one-day competition.
Furthermore, Head's scoring rate of 181.1 per 100 balls faced is the highest by any century maker in the history of Australia's domestic men's one-day competition.
The next-fastest score in a triple-figure knock was David Hussey's 113 from 64 balls (at a rate of 176.6) for Victoria against New South Wales at the SCG 13 years ago.
Head might have been dismissed three times on the way to his highest List-A score, all of them catches that were effectively taken on the boundary (when he was 63, 186 and then 222) before fielders flicked the ball back into the field of play for fear of carrying it across the rope.
But by the same measure, those deft acts of outfielding might have cost the former Australia vice-captain up to a dozen runs which would have pushed his score closer to D'Arcy Short's benchmark for the domestic one-day competition of 257 against Queensland at Hurstville Oval in 2018.
"I took my chances at the start, and got off to a quick start which always helps," Head said.
"I moved into the ball really well, and was probably a bit keen to get into the game having a couple of weeks out of it since the last Shield game.
"There was probably a little bit in the wicket at the start, and they bowled quite well but once I got myself in, I picked my targets, and the parts of the ground where I could take advantage of that.
"And the little breaks in play probably helped.
"The drinks break that came just after I got a hundred, I was going at about a million miles an hour and it just gave me time to chill out, and the same again when we came off for rain (in the 40th over).
"I was pretty knackered by then so to have that little rain delay and then come back out probably came at a good time."
Head's 244-run partnership with opener Jake Weatherald (97 off 103 balls) was not only a second-wicket record for SA in the one-day competition's history, it powered the Redbacks to their second-highest total of 8-391 from 48 overs.
That was despite a late-innings flurry of wickets in which the home team lost 6-41 in 28 balls as they swung at every offering.
The loss of two overs to the early afternoon shower meant Queensland's target was bumped up to 397, but further rain in the 20th (when the Bulls were 3-145) over of their chase saw the assignment adjusted to 380 from a total of 44 overs.
Even with the marginal downward revision, Queensland needed to post the second-highest run chase the competition has seen to steal a win.
But they might have taken solace in knowing the record for biggest successful pursuit (3-402 against Tasmania at North Sydney Oval in 2014) is held by the Bulls, and underpinned by current skipper Usman Khawaja who scored 166 from 110 balls that day.
That outside hope took a hit when Khawaja was adjudged lbw to Nick Winter in the fourth over, but his opening partner Heazlett took up the challenge and for a while had Queensland eyeing an unlikely win.
Heazlett appeared set to post a hundred at an even greater clip than Head when he raced to 93 from 59 balls faced, but he failed to read leg-spinner Lloyd Pope's wrong-un and advanced down the pitch before being smartly stumped.
From there, Queensland lost regular wickets just as partnerships began the form, and when ex-Test opener Matthew Renshaw fell to former teammate Brendan Doggett for 52, the asking rate had climbed to 11 runs an over.
Doggett finished with 4-75 in his first outing for his new team against his former state, including the prized scalp of Test batter Marnus Labuschagne (6 off 11 balls) who top-edged the quick's second delivery in his new livery to deep backward square leg.
He also ended Queensland's last fleeting hope of an epic run chase when he had Michael Neser (55 from 30 balls) caught at mid-on, after the Queenslander combined with fellow allrounder Jack Wildermuth (37 off 18) in a last-ditch seventh-wicket stand of 64 off 32 balls.
The two teams will square off in a Marsh Sheffield Shield match at Adelaide Oval starting on Friday.
Sign up for BKT Big Bash Tipping this season at tipping.cricket.com.au! Go for the major prize or join a league and take on your friends, family and colleagues.