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Steady Head ready to step up

15 September 2017

Martin Smith, in Chennai


Martin Smith, in Chennai


Aussie allrounder set for added responsibility in five-match ODI series against India

Since Travis Head debuted for Australia 15 months ago, only full-time gloveman Matthew Wade has played more one-day internationals for Australia.

Head has played 25 of 26 games since his first in St Kitts in June last year, the one he missed being a washed-out match in Barbados against South Africa that lasted just six deliveries.

Head has played more games than Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc in that time and has scored more runs than Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell and Wade as well.

He celebrated his first international century just seven months after his debut, on no less a stage than Australia Day and at his home ground of the Adelaide Oval. And going into this series against India, the left-hander boasts an average of more than 40 with the bat, including that one century and six fifties.

Head posts maiden ODI century on home turf

It's hard to imagine a new player could establish himself in one of the best teams in the world as quickly as Head has over the past year and a bit.

And the 23-year-old has only just caught his breath after a dream rookie year that included tours of the Caribbean, Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand and the UK as well as eight matches at home over the summer.

"I haven't really thought about it too much, it's gone really quickly," he said on Thursday ahead of Australia's five-match series against India, starting on Sunday.

"There was a period of time after the Champions Trophy where I was able to go home and reflect a little bit and put my feet up and just sit at home.

"It's gone really well.

"I feel really welcome in this side. As soon as I debuted, it's a very welcoming side and they let you express yourself as much as possible.

"And I think that's where I feel most comfortable, when I can go out there and express myself as much as possible and that's worked.

"I know somewhere down the line it's going to change and I've just got to be working really hard to make sure it doesn't happen (too often)."

Not only has Head the batsman found a home in Australia's middle order, he's become an extremely useful ally for captain Steve Smith with the ball as well. The off-spinner has bowled in all but five matches so far in his career, completing his full complement of 10 overs three times, and his economy rate in that time is better than those of Adam Zampa and John Hastings and only marginally worse than that of Pat Cummins.

Smith has often used his new bowling weapon early in an innings, before the shine has completely gone off the new ball and when there's been a need to put the brakes on a free-flowing top order. And while Head has taken just 12 wickets in his career, all have been top-order batsmen, including the likes of Faf du Plessis, Martin Guptill, Babar Azam and Shakib Al Hasan.

All the while, Head's more senior off-spinning allrounder teammate Glenn Maxwell - Australia's frontline spinner in their World Cup triumph two-and-a-half-year ago - has bowled a grand total of just five overs.

"I've been working really hard on my bowling (and) Glenn is the same," the Redbacks skipper said.

"He's just come from the Bangladesh tour and he bowled well.

"I think we can both play in the same side and both do a role if needed. I think we both bowl different styles.

"If we can get a chance with the ball, or if Glenn gets the chance, we're confident in each other's skills."

Already a certain starter in Australia's best XI, Head is set to take on more responsibility against India in the coming weeks with coach David Saker anointing him as the man to fill the troublesome No.4 slot.

Extended highlights: Australia record huge warm-up win

And like he's done since his debut last year, Head seems ready to seamlessly slip into his new role.

"I'm excited by the opportunity to go up the order again," Head, one of four Australians to score a half-century in their tour game in Chennai this week, said.

"I've had a chance at most spots since I've come into the side.

"I feel confident and it was nice to get some time in the middle the other day to get a feel for the wicket and the conditions."

Australia's Qantas Tour of India

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.

Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.

India squad (first three ODIs): Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.

ODI Fixtures

September 17: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai

September 21: Eden Gardens, Kolkata

September 24: Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore

September 28: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

October 1: VCA Stadium, Nagpur

T20 Fixtures

October 1: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi

October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati

October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad

About the Writer

Martin Smith is a writer for He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.