Pakistan's Tour of Australia - Men's
Selection battle secondary to Pakistan pressure: Head
'Team first' mentality to continue for Australia A despite Test berth tussle, Travis Heads believes
8 November 2019, 08:38 AM AEST
Test berths are on the line but Australia A players will not let personal ambition come before the opportunity to put Pakistan on the back foot in next week's day-night tour match in Perth.
Batsman Travis Head, who is locked in a tussle with Australia A teammates Nic Maddinson and Will Pucovksi for a spot in the Test middle order, said he expected the 'team first' mentality of recent Australia A sides to continue.
"I think it's really important this week that the first (pink-ball) game against Pakistan we put them under real pressure," Head said on radio station SEN's SA Breakfast.
"We've got a really strong Australia A team and if we start the summer well then we put them under pressure for the Test series.
"There's a lot riding on it for a few batters but one thing we've done well as a group is focusing on trying to win the game, and whoever that person is that gets the runs that's great and we'll all be supporting them."
Under Justin Langer's regime as head coach, tour matches have taken on greater significance in the selection process, with the three-day day-night match against Pakistan at the Perth Stadium essentially a bat off between contenders to fill the last vacancies in the top six.
The strong line-up, captained by Australia's ODI and T20 gloveman Alex Carey, follows the winter Australia A series in the UK that helped play the likes of Head and Matthew Wade into the Ashes series.
A similar series in India ahead of Langer's first Test series in charge of Australia – two Tests against Pakistan in the UAE last October – saw Head and Marnus Labuschagne selected for their Test debuts; and last January twin tons for Australia A saw Kurtis Patterson elevated into the Test squad to debut against Sri Lanka.
"The Australia A team has always put aside personal achievement or personal gains," Head said.
"There's a lot riding on these games and spots in the Test team up are for grabs but one thing the players did really well in England and India before the Dubai series was to be able to put the team first.
"We've had two or three tours where there's been a lot of speculation and we all want runs but we've been able to put the team first."
Head flies to Perth for the Australia A game on the back of scores of 109 and 29 in the Redbacks' Marsh Sheffield Shield defeat to New South Wales, who boasted a bowling attack led by Test quick Josh Hazlewood and spinner Nathan Lyon.
"I felt like I'd been batting well and just hadn't been able to post a score (before the last round)," he said.
"I felt like I'd been doing the work off the field, and spent a long time doing drills with Greg Blewett during the week and I knew it would translate into some sort of form eventually.
"It was disappointing to get out cheaply in the second innings even more so because once you're in form you want to keep backing it up.
"But I'm looking forward to Perth, hopefully I can get some more runs and see where it takes us.
"It's about trying to grab that opportunity but not try and force it too much, not trying to chase runs too hard, just let it be."
Head was dropped for the fifth and final Ashes Test in September as Australia opted to play allrounder Mitchell Marsh, but the 25-year-old right-hander boasts a career average of 42.70 from 12 Tests.
And while speculation over the makeup of the Australian XI for the opening Domain Test against Pakistan from November 21 gathers pace, Head is in a good space.
"I was comfortable coming out of England on what I needed to do and where I was at with Trevor (Hohns) and 'JL' (Justin Langer)," Head added.
"I guess at this time of year … the speculation around the Test team is at its highest, because you've got four Shield games going into the first Test and there is spots up for grabs.
"If you get a duck or you get a hundred, you're either high or low and everyone speculates over one innings.
"I spoke to Trevor the other day about the Australia A game … you've just got to try and get as many runs as you can, but that's not just these four games, it's the whole season.
"I think it just gets highlighted more because it's the first Test of the summer and there's so much building on it and there's so much hype around it.
"Every innings comes under the spotlight but I'm not worrying about that, I'm just concentrating on winning games of cricket."
Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Australia squad: TBC
Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.
Warm-up match: v Australia A, November 11-13, Perth Stadium (d/n)
Warm-up match: v Cricket Australia XI, November 15-16, WACA Ground
First Test: November 21-25, Gabba (Seven, Fox & Kayo)