Cricket

Ash hero Head eyeing World Cup berths

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After securing his place in Australia’s Test squad with a series player performance in Ashes this summer, Travis Head is eyeing a return to limited training with World Cups looming in both white-ball formats over the course of the next two years.

Head was named to the Australian squad this week for three ODIs and a T20I who follow three Tests on the Qantas Tour of Pakistan next month, having not represented his country in either format since 2018.

But on the back of his efforts to win the Compton-Miller medal in the ashes of Vodafone, and after a career-high 230 (on 127 balls) in a Marsh One-Day Cup match for South Australia against Queensland earlier this summer, he thinks it’s not just his red ball game that has improved dramatically.

With regular white ball flyhalf David Warner not named for the limited leg of the Pakistan tour, Head is among the main candidates to partner Australian white ball captain Aaron Finch at the top of the order hitters.

The 28-year-old has opened 12 times in his 42-game ODI career to date, averaging 41 at a strike rate of nearly a point per ball (97.05) and scoring high at 128 against Pakistan at Adelaide Oval on Australia Day 2017. .

And while he would welcome any opportunity in the starting XI in line with his ambition to represent Australia in all three formats, Head believes the flexibility he offers selectors as a proven option anywhere in the top six could be the key to a longer tenure in the limited overshoot setup.

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“Right now I’m probably trying to take every opportunity that comes my way, but if that (opening) spot is available, I’ve played well there and I’ve done that in the past,” he said. he said today.

“Anywhere in that higher order, continuing my last two years in national three-batting cricket for South Australia, but knowing I can open the batting as well, gives us good versatility around the order .

“I would love to be back in the team and have another chance.

“A lot of time has passed between games and I feel like my one-day cricket has come a long way.

“I worked extremely hard on Test cricket, but that in itself made me a better player, a more compact player and able to score on the pitch.

“Playing international cricket in any format makes you a better player and I hope I can make an impact when the time comes.”

Head has been puzzled to read in recent weeks that he has opted to give up his place in Australia’s T20 squad for the just-concluded Dettol T20I series against Sri Lanka and instead return to Adelaide and lead SA in a Marsh Sheffield Shield game against Victoria.

He reaffirmed today that he did not make the decision unilaterally but in consultation with many others, with the call for him to train for the red ball match after a campaign was canceled T20 scheduled in New Zealand meant that more Australian players were suddenly available for the Sri Lanka Series.

When he returned to the T20 squad after that Shield game, Head was not named in the starting XI for any of Dettol’s remaining games in Melbourne, denying him the opportunity to add to the squad. 16 T20Is he has played for Australia since his debut in 2016.

“It was not my decision,” Head said of the decision to forfeit the first three games of the Sri Lankan series.

“I want to play in all three formats, but I think at the end of the day I had the best preparation.

“I was obviously disappointed not to play one of those games when I came back to the team, but to have some time at home, to play the Shield game and then come back to the team a day, I am extremely eager to return to this team or these squads.

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“But I also want to prepare as well as possible for Test cricket, so to have that balance over the last month was good.”

Although he announced himself at international level in limited overs cricket two years before winning a Baggy Green Cap against Pakistan in Dubai, Head has apparently become a red ball player, even though his attacking game suggests otherwise.

As one of only four specialist hitters amid a glut of all-rounders and backup goalkeepers in the white ball squad for Pakistan, he will likely have a unique opportunity to push for more regular consideration in planning for Australia’s limited overruns.

With the next 50-year-old World Cup due in India at the end of 2023, national team chairman George Bailey indicated this week that Australia were looking to focus on developing ODI players with “additional secondary skills”, which whether with the bat, the ball or on the field. .

Hence, Head’s occasional shifts could also become more regular in Pakistan.

However, he noted today that he did not expect to be called for many overs in previous Tests as team-mate Marnus Labuschagne’s leg rotation provided a more attractive point of difference for the leading off- spinner, Nathan Lyons.

But Head is aware that he has yet to be selected in an Australia squad for a limited-numbers World Cup.

And while this year’s T20 showpiece in Australia seems unlikely for him given the depth of players available to the defending champions, performances in the Over-50 matches in Pakistan could improve his chances for the India in 2023.

Not that he’s focused on the next iteration of the ICC ODI World Cup just yet.

“I’m crossing my fingers but there are tough series coming up,” he said when asked if he considered the Pakistani series as an audition for this 2023 event.

“It’s obviously a stepping stone for that.

“If you play well at any stage you start getting more involved in the teams and then hopefully I can be a part of them and contribute to a winning team.

“Then at this point (2023) hopefully I will be in the team.

“But it’s a long, long way and we have a lot of cricket to do between yesterday and today.

“Hopefully I can contribute right away and get back into that mix and then the rest will take care of itself.”

Qantas Tour of Pakistan 2022

Pakistani team: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Zahid Mahmoud. Reserves: Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed

Australia Test Team: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc , Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner. Standby: Sean Abbott, Brendan Doggett, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Renshaw

March 4-8: First try, Rawalpindi

March 12-16: Second try, Karachi

March 21-25: Third try, Lahore

Australia ODI and T20 team: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa

March 29: First ODI, Rawalpindi

March, 31st: Second ODI, Rawalpindi

April 2: Third ODI, Rawalpindi

April 5: Only T20I, Rawalpindi

All matches will be shown in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports