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Head grasping national opportunity with both hands

Cricket

In South Australian cricket’s darkest hour Travis Head accepted a role that belied his first-class experience.

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During one of the most tumultuous times in SA’s proud history, Head was handed the captaincy at 21.

But the left-handed batsmen not only grew into the position of responsibility, he thrived.

Head is on the cusp of consolidating his place in the national side with his place in the Australian one-day middle order strengthening with each innings.

As Australia yesterday clinched the trans-Tasman ODI series, Head repaid coach Darren Lehmann’s faith to bump him up the order to No.4, making his second straight 50.

The 22-year-old was looking strong before his 57-run innings came to an end when he scooped Tim Southee to Colin Munro at backward point, throwing away yet another proming start.

He had been given a second life when was caught off the bowling of Matt Henry, however it was called back because of a waist-high no ball.

The Australians had elected to leave out controversial allrounder Glenn Maxwell and Adam Zampa, leaving Head as their main spin option. He responded by tying down an end and finished with figures of 0-31 from seven overs.

A seat on the Test tour of India beckons if he continues to impress this summer.

In early 2015, three months after the death of Phillip Hughes, Head was announced as South Australian captain.

The next summer Head scored his maiden Sheffield Shield century and he led them to their first final in more than 20 years while being named the competition’s best player.

“It’s a great honour to captain your state,” Head said this week.

“In a pretty tough position where we were at that stage. We’d gone through some stuff personally and as a team.

“To come in – and I’m not taking all the credit, the whole squad has been fantastic and it’s quite an easy group to lead – the steps we’ve taken forward in the last 18 months have been fantastic.

“It’s definitely been a change in my career and I’m very fortunate.”

Australia's Travis Head after being dismissed for a duck. AP photo

Travis Head has endured some lean form in earlier international appearances. Photo: AAP

Head last month made a century on the second anniversary of Hughes’ death – scoring 130 against Victoria.

He is continuing to evolve and has worked hard to develop his part-time offspin, taking seven wickets in his last four Shield games.

Head’s potential earned him a call-up to the Australian Twenty20 and ODI sides earlier in the year.

He posted his second ODI half century on Sunday, when he and Steve Smith saved Australia against New Zealand at the SCG. It was a breakthrough of sorts, since in his first 13 ODI games he made several starts but never really went on with the job.

It’s this facet of his game that Head describes as the next frontier for his development.

But that development could continue apace, with Australia appearing set to stick with its winning formula.

“I get told where I’m put and try to perform,” said Head.

“The pressure is always on in the side. You’ve got James Faulkner and Glenn who are fantastic players in any cricket side. You’ve probably got five guys that are banging down the door that aren’t in the squad.”

 

But after three ODI half-centuries – and two in succession – there is growing evidence the 22-year-old South Australian captain is beginning to come into his own.

 

-AAP

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