04/03/2024

Travis Head in action during the Boxing Day Test. (Photo: Izhar Ahmed Khan)

The Australian Cricket Team has a plethora of playing depth at its disposal for the Hobart Test, and with Travis Head available again, the headache only gets worse.

The Australian Cricket Team has a plethora of playing depth at its disposal for selection for the Hobart Test. As such, the starting XI for the fifth match of the Ashes will be intriguing.

In Adelaide, chief selector George Bailey and his selection committee handed a debut to long-time drinks carrier Michael Neser, who’s ability to swing the ball, especially under lights, proved a massive advantage.

At the MCG, hometown hero Scott Boland produced one of the best debuts Australian cricket has ever seen. Taking 6/7 in the second innings to clinch victory for Australia, Boland was awarded the Johnny Mullagh Medal, for man of the match in the Boxing Day Test.

The medal acknowledges the 1868 Aboriginal touring group and was introduced on the back of the Cricket Australia 2019 Reconciliation Action Plan. The inaugural winner was India’s Ajinkya Rahane.

2022 Johnny Mullagh Medallist: Scott Boland. (Photo: Izhar Khan)

At the SCG, veteran Usman Khawaja was called upon to replace Travis Head in the middle order and filled the role with aplomb, becoming just the third man to score back-to-back hundreds in a test match at the SCG.

Khawaja’s batting was scintillating, posting scores of 137 and 101 not out over the course of the match, but this has now given selectors another headache heading into the final Test in Hobart.

Head was ruled out of the SCG Test after testing positive to COVID-19, but prior to that was one of the most in-form players in the Australian side. His 152 runs off 148 balls set the tone for the series, as he battered the English bowlers to all parts of the Gabba.

More Ashes News

Ashes: Root praises ‘team effort’ as England hold on for a draw at the SCG

Ashes: Fourth Test Day 5: The moments that mattered

Ashes: Usman Khawaja enjoying working with Cameron Green

Head has since returned from his COVID-19 layoff, and is raring and ready to go for the final Test, should he be selected.

“I had no [COVID-19] symptoms and felt fine throughout the whole period,” he told media on Sunday.

“I am unsure how I contracted it. But I went through all the protocols, did my seven days [isolation] and thankfully there were no issues.”

Head returned to the Australian dressing room midway through the Fourth Test and said that “it was nice to be able to get back around the boys”.

In the aftermath of the SCG Test, Head faced the press and was quizzed about selection heading to Hobart.

“We will wait and see [if I’m selected]. I think [Khawaja] played beautifully,” he said.

“We felt like both of us were in great touch. We know that [Khawaja] is so versatile too. He has taken his opportunity with both hands.”

Australian Usman Khawaja celebrates a century at the SCG. (Photo: Izhar Khan)

Another player who might come under the selection microscope is Marcus Harris, who has struggled for runs throughout this Ashes campaign. Harris has only had one score of more than 40 this series.

Given Khawaja’s SCG performance as well as the impending inclusion of Travis Head, Harris might find himself on the sidelines in Hobart despite having the backing of head coach Justin Langer and the rest of the Australian dressing room.

“[Harris’] attitude hasn’t changed much. We celebrate each other’s successes,” Head said post-match.

“Marcus is an amazing character within the group. I think you can see that with how he is on the field, and he is like that off the field too.”

Head has been pleased with his own form in the side this summer, and noted that the performance of Australia’s top order has allowed him to be at his swash-buckling best with the bat.

“I think I have summed up the conditions and state of the game up well, which is what was asked of me at the start of the series,” he said.

“The guys at the top of the order have set an amazing platform for me over the first few Tests, so it was good to capitalise on that.”

Whether Australia brings Head straight back into the playing XI remains to be seen, but he is just “keen to just get back around the group” and be back in the Australian dressing room.

The final Test match of the 2021/22 Ashes series begins on January 14 in Hobart, Tasmania.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

About Author

Leave a Reply