ICC Champions Trophy Warm-Ups
Head becoming 'the complete package'
Experienced opener Finch heaps praise on young Redback, who continues to impress
Martin Smith Birmingham
28 May 2017, 10:25 AM AEST
Aaron Finch says 23-year-old Travis Head is rapidly becoming "the complete package" in one-day international cricket, despite being less than a year into his ODI career.
Finch (137) and Head (85no) were the stars of Australia's two-wicket warm-up win over Sri Lanka at The Oval on Friday, the opener setting up the successful pursuit of 319 before the left-hander impressively finished the job with two balls remaining.
Quick Single: Finch, Head help Aussies to 319
The pair and Chris Lynn had seemingly been in a three-way battle to open the batting alongside David Warner for Australia's Champions Trophy opener against New Zealand on Friday, but the result in south London has all but secured Finch's spot at the top and Head's in the middle order.
Head, who opens the batting for South Australia in domestic one-day cricket, made his ODI debut last June at No.6 before a brief shift to the top of the order last summer when Finch was dropped saw him produce scores of 5, 39 and 128.
Finch's ton against Sri Lanka may have snuffed out any ambition Head has to be an opener, at least in the short term, but the Victorian couldn't help but be impressed by the rookie's temperament in a tense run chase.
"He played fantastic," Finch said. "The amount of one-day cricket he's played now is the right mix of a little bit of naivety and quite a bit of experience. It's a great balance.
"He's a hugely talented player. He can hit the ball to all parts, he bowls good off-spin and is good in the field.
"He's becoming the complete package as a player."
The pair shared a 75-run stand at The Oval before Finch and Glenn Maxwell departed in consecutive deliveries, putting the focus firmly on Head to guide his side to victory.
Quick Single: Finch finds form to secure top-order spot
And despite losing Matthew Wade, Marcus Stoinis and James Pattinson in the final 10 overs of the match, the rookie expertly steered the Aussies home, displaying the maturity and composure that convinced South Australia in 2015 to boldly appoint him as their youngest-ever captain when he was still just 21.
The 'finishing' role is one the left-hander looks set to play again in the Champions Trophy over the next three weeks, his first major international tournament.
"I'm adaptable so (batting) one to six doesn't faze me," he said.
"Warm-up game or no warm-up game, it was nice to be there at the end. I've had a few opportunities to do the same thing and I haven't been able to do it so it's pleasing to get out there and make a few runs and spend some time out in the middle.
"It was probably tighter than what we wanted it to be, but they batted pretty well at the end to post 300 (plus) and it was nice to chase it down.
"I thought we batted beautifully. Finchy at the top of the order was fantastic and to bring it home, it was a nice team performance."
The most eye-catching aspect of Head's knock was his ability to accelerate at precisely the right moment in the final 10 overs, when the required scoring rate was starting to balloon out of control.
After Wade had been dismissed in the 40th over to reduce the score to 6-243 with 10 overs remaining, the required rate jumped beyond 8.5 per over due to some tight bowling from Lakshan Sandakan and the fact that Stoinis had only just arrived at the crease.
But Head put his foot down to help Australia score 32 runs in just 18 balls between overs 43 and 45, helped along by some undisciplined bowling, to see the required rate drop to almost a run-a-ball.
"We had it under control but it did go up and down with wickets," he said.
"We communicated really well. It's nice to not have the pressure (with) it being a warm-up game, but you still want to win the game so there was pressure there.
Quick Single: Champions Trophy preview: Australia
"We controlled it pretty well in the end. We left it until pretty late but our processes were really good, our communication was fantastic and it's really pleasing to get the win.
"We tried to score off every ball and try not to leave it right to the end. I felt like it was pretty controlled. In parts it probably wasn't as controlled as others, but it's not going to be all clear sailing in a run chase."
The Australians have arrived in Birmingham for their warm-up game against Pakistan at Edgbaston on Monday ahead of their tournament opener against NZ at the same venue on Friday.
Champions Trophy 2017 Guide
Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh.
Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.
26 May – Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval
27 May – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Edgbaston
28 May – India v New Zealand, The Oval
29 May – Australia v Pakistan, Edgbaston
30 May – New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston
30 May – Bangladesh vs India, The Oval
1 June – England v Bangladesh, The Oval (Day)
2 June – Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (D)
3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)
4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)
5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)
6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)
7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)
8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)
9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)
10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)
11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)
12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)
14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)
15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)
18 June – Final, The Oval (D)
19 June – Reserve day (D)