Head unperturbed by middle-order speculation
Left-hander confident his Boxing Day Test century shows he's learnt the lessons from his axing during the Ashes last year
14 May 2020, 05:14 PM AEST
Vice-captain Travis Head says he was unfazed by speculation surrounding his spot in Australia's Test team last summer, saying it's to be expected for a No.6 batter in a side that doesn't have an allrounder.
Australia publicly floated the prospect of dropping Head and picking a fifth bowler for the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand, with concerns that a lifeless MCG pitch would require more bowling depth in the XI.
Head had been axed for an extra bowling option in the final Test of the Ashes three months earlier, replaced by Mitchell Marsh at The Oval, before the left-hander returned for the start of the home summer as Marsh was injured and Australia reverted to a four-man bowling attack.
Public conjecture about Head's spot in the side for the Boxing Day Test turned out to be a ruse aimed at distracting the Black Caps, and Head responded to a rollercoaster week by scoring just his second Test hundred.
He says the speculation is simply part of being a middle-order batsman in the Test XI.
"I knew that pressure was going to be on me, being the No.6 batter," he said today.
"Those pressures are just part and parcel of it.
"For me it's about going out and performing as much as I can and try to prove that I'm good enough to be in that team and continue to get picked.
"Pressure is obviously that conversation, but I feel like I’m hopefully keeping myself in the team more often than not."
There's one moment of the summer that sticks in Travis Head's mind 💯 pic.twitter.com/AehqT8ihJ7— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) May 14, 2020
It's not yet clear when Australia's next Test campaign will be – their proposed tour of Bangladesh in June has already been postponed – but Head's MCG century should ensure his spot for the resumption of five-day cricket.
Head averages almost 42 from 17 Tests since his debut in late 2018, while fellow left-hander Matthew Wade averages 37 from 10 matches since returning to the Test side last year.
And despite the lure of throwing highly-rated allrounder Cameron Green into the side, or welcoming back Marsh now that he has returned to full fitness, coach Justin Langer recently backed both Head and Wade to retain their spots in the middle order.
"(Head) has had a great start to his career (and) is playing well, Matthew Wade the same," Langer told News Corp in March.
"It is their position. It is nice to have competition.
"So, whether it is Cameron Green or any of the players, the advice always is be so good we can't ignore you and you can only do that through good performances."
Head added the lessons from his Ashes axing have stuck with him and emphasised the importance of turning good starts into scores of substance, like he did at the MCG.
Having posted scores of 35, 51 and 42no in his first three innings of the series, Head's returns tailed off and left him vulnerable to the axe when conditions called for a chance of team structure.
"I would have loved to have one of those scores at the start of the Ashes to be a big score," he said.
"I was disappointed that I wasn't able to have a big score which may have kept me in the team. It gave them to opportunity for me to be the one who missed out for the allrounder.
"It was a bit to do with the team (make-up), but also a bit to do with not being able to put my foot on it and not being able to make a score to keep myself in the team.
"I definitely had the confidence that if I came home and scored runs and put myself back in a position to get back in that I could stay in there and I was able to do that during the summer."