After being sent in under gloomy skies, Travis Head’s counter-attacking century has put Australia in a position for a huge first-innings total.
Head joined Marnus Labuschagne in the middle of Bellerive Oval at 3/12, after Australia saw openers David Warner, Usman Khawaja, and number four Steve Smith make their way back to the pavilion.
Rather than sit back and defend hopelessly, the pair counterattacked putting the pressure back on the English bowlers.
The pair went on to make a 71-run partnership before Labuschagne ended up getting too far outside the line of the stumps and missed the line of the ball, slipping over just as the ball smashed into his middle stump.
The wicket brought young all-rounder Cameron Green to the crease. Green and Head continued on the previous partnership, causing more pain for England.
Head completed his terrific hundred late in the second session before succumbing to Chris Woakes the following ball.
At the end of play, Head said he won’t know how important his fourth Test hundred is until England bat, but was disappointed he was dismissed straight after making it.
“We’ll wait and see how the game pans out. I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to go on and get a big score. I felt like I had earned the right and worked really hard to get to that position and to give it up that easily,” Head said.
“In terms of where my innings sits, we’ll wait and see. We [have] got to wait for England to bat hopefully we put them under high pressure, and that first innings puts us in a position to win a game of cricket for Australia. Then [I’ll] sit back and reflect on that [his Test century].”
Before the series, Head’s change to his batting technique was the talk of the town, but the 28-year-old said it’s the change of mindset and role clarity that has been the reason behind his success.
“I’ve definitely come into the series more relaxed. I spoke about that leading into Brisbane, and the fact that Pat and JL [Justin Langer] have backed me in quite hard over the period [and] asked of me to go out [and] play the way I see the game,” he said.
“[To] have that backing, I feel like I’ve come off some strong [Sheffield] Shield seasons to know that my game is in good order.
“Coming in and having [already] experienced it and having a fair blueprint on Test cricket. I’ve definitely come in with an attitude of an expectation of what’s required, and I’ve been able to go out and express myself in that manner as I’ve seen fit.”
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After batting on the green seaming wicket at Bellerive, Head believes anything over 300 runs in the first innings would be a good total.
“Traditionally in Australia [you look at] that 400+ score, [but] this wicket is probably more suited and the conditions, pink ball. It’s probably more bowler-friendly,” Head said.
“In the UK, when we played in 2019 it was all about the 300 [run mark] and getting to 300 then past 300. We know if we get enough runs, we have a high-quality bowling attack so anything over 300 [runs] and batting as long as we can tomorrow is going to be key.”
Head said when the Australian bowlers get the chance to bowl on that pitch, it will be important to make the most of their chances.
“When we bowl it’s [going to be] about making sure we identify the moments with that [pink] ball, I think it’s going to be a tough new ball wicket as we [have] seen today,” he said.
“As that ball gets softer over time, identifying the moments that support the tempo of the game, we may [need to] change and come to different plans.
“We got to be quick in identifying that and communicate that really well throughout the team. I definitely feel we’ve got the bowling attack to take 20 wickets.”
After missing the Sydney Test, Head said he felt like the time away allowed him to put a high price on his wicket when training in the nets, which helped him in his innings.
“There has been a tendency over my career, that I haven’t been the best net batter and I think I determine that to in the past I’ve been high on my technique and I’m a high thinker of what I’m doing at training,” Head said.
“I do a lot of drill work, like ball machine work, a lot of top hand strong right side stuff and moving into good positions, and I feel like I probably wasn’t taking time to do my technique stuff and then also bat in [the] nets the way I should bat in training.
“I was sort of mashing the two together then you’re trying to work on technique when you’re facing Starcy [Mitchell Starc] and Hoff [Josh Hazlewood] in the nets [and] your never going to get the desired results.
“I really had to transition my technical side of things to training and against the bowlers trying to make sure I was game ready.
“There are times to do both and I think I’ve been able to find that balance and I did that technique stuff in Sydney for three days [then] had two days off and then the last two days were [about] facing bowlers around game style and being tough to get out.
“So, I bat the way I would start my first 20 balls and I think that has been a real shift in the way I’ve trained.”
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