Most of the 24,449 spectators who attended the opening day were still there when Head drove Alzarri Joseph down the ground to bring up his fifth Test hundred from 125 balls and there was a lengthy ovation as he soaked in the moment. “The mayor of Adelaide,” injured captain Pat Cummins called him during a commentary stint on Fox Cricket earlier in the innings. He was the first South Australia batter to make a hundred at the ground since Greg Blewett’s debut century against England in 1994-95.
“Play as straight as possible, try not to cut it off the stumps,” he told Fox Cricket on what he was thinking in the 90s. “Cricket’s a funny game. One run does magical things to the brain. It was a long week, nice to get over the line with the next one.”
He’s certainly not someone who has got the perfect forward defence, but he certainly takes attacks down and is so hard to bowl to
Marnus Labuschagne on Travis Head
“I always felt like once he played like he wanted to [in Tests] and we knew like he could, almost taking the shackles off and letting him play, he’s certainly not someone who has got the perfect forward defence, but he certainly takes attacks down and is so hard to bowl to. When he’s on a roll he makes big scores. He’s been doing it since we were very young…so I’ve got so much confidence now he’s playing in this manner and taking the game on.”
Labuschagne also believed that Head’s slightly less-than textbook technique was one of his strengths.
“He’s hitting balls off the top of the stumps for four… he’s just a hard person to stop when he’s going because he plays a bit awkward,” he said. “He sits back, gets low on that back foot, cuts the ball and carves the ball out to the off side. The Australian conditions just suit him beautifully, the bouncier wickets, with the width and just staying a little bit more leg side.”
That nod to Australia conditions, and what happened between the two home summers, highlights the challenge ahead for Head. He found life much tougher in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, averaging just 15.16 with a strike-rate of 48.40 across five Tests. In February, Australia travel to India for four Tests and the notion has been floated whether he could lose his place in the XI in a horses-for-courses selection.
“They are moments that obviously stand out and it is a stat-based game,” he said before the second Test. “But two series, I am early in my career still in terms of international cricket in the subcontinent. A lot of players have missed out. I’m not going to change the wheel or invent anything different.”
That is in the future for Head. For now, he will still have the applause of the Adelaide crowd ringing in his ears.