Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Flat Head desperate to convert after false dawns
South Australia's skipper takes responsiblity for loss to WA, looks for ways to turn consistent starts into a big score
Louis Cameron in Adelaide
14 October 2020, 03:15 PM AEST
Travis Head is desperate to convert one of his many starts into a big score ahead of the Test summer, admitting he was seething after being the first domino to fall in a match-turning South Australian batting collapse this week.
Head said he was "filthy" with being caught on the boundary for 31 when the Redbacks were 2-230 on day three, sparking the decisive batting crumble in their Marsh Sheffield Shield season-opening defeat to Western Australia.
SA batted nearly all of day four on a wearing pitch, with Head making 54 before a half-hearted pass at a bouncer cut short another promising start. But the Redbacks were bowled out to seal a 205-run loss after failing to bowl out the visitors in either innings.
"That was the moment (on day three) where we could have, if were aware of the game … really tried to win it," Head told cricket.com.au.
"That middle session just wasn't good enough. To lose 20 wickets on a wicket we were only able to get seven on – we've got work to do on both sides of our game.
"I was filthy about (the first-innings dismissal). We had a great opportunity to get ourselves in a position where we could deny the opposition and give (ourselves) a chance to win it.
"I take a lot of ownership around that. It was a poor shot. I felt like, in my game plan, I rushed it a little bit. You've got to continually try to get better and I'll learn from that."
Head has become one of the hardest batsmen in the country to dismiss when he first arrives at the crease; his second-innings exit for 54 marked a 10th consecutive first-class innings in which he has batted for at least an hour.
Yet the 26-year-old remains frustrated given he has failed to pass 60 in any of those knocks.
Having solidified his position in the Australian team with a breakthrough century against New Zealand during last summer's Boxing Day Test, Head is confident another big score awaits.
"The positive is that I am playing well, I'm moving well, I've just got to do it for longer periods of time," he said. "That's what we've spoken about as a team (at SA).
"First-class cricket is not easy, you've got to (perform) over and over again. Great players do it over and over again, consistently.
"I feel like I'm close to it ... it's also a strength to be able to get a start and consistently play my role but it needs to be bigger. As a senior player in the team, I need to be standing up and getting big runs."
Despite being dropped for the final Test of last year's Ashes series when selectors preferred allrounder Mitch Marsh, Head is arguably the country's best-credentialed long-form batting talent under 30, alongside Marnus Labuschagne.
Head's record – his batting average after 17 Tests is 42.96 – compares favourably to many of the modern Australian greats at the same stages of their careers.
Ricky Ponting averaged 38.03 after the same number of Test matches and had the same number of hundreds (two), Steve Smith had three centuries but only averaged 36.40, while Steve Waugh had still yet to score a ton and averaged 29.81.
While Head's bid to improve during a planned county stint with Sussex this year was curtailed by the pandemic, he said the winter off has helped him refresh and left him eager to perform against the world's best Test team, India, this summer.
"The only thing you want to do when you have a good summer, you want to come back and hit the ground running again, and start where you left off," said Head.
"I felt like at the back end of last summer I made some real improvements in my game and I was able to get some big runs. Now I've got to start all over again I guess."