Is show­ing value of pa­tience

Sunday Mail - - SPORT - RICHARD EARLE

TRAVISHead’s men­tal strength has been hailed by for­mer Test opener Chris Rogers as the blue­print for Aus­tralia’s next-gen­er­a­tion bats­man as they take on In­dia in Ade­laide.

Head was one of four top six Aus­tralian bats­man with less than 15 Tests fronting against In­dia — its most in­ex­pe­ri­enced group since World Se­ries. In­dia, by con­trast, had nine play­ers fronting from its 2014 Test tour here.

Head’s 72 in 167 balls in the first in­nings be­lied his nat­u­ral at­tack­ing in­stincts and came seven months af­ter un­pack­ing his bat­ting ap­proach. “He has the tal­ent, it was work­ing the men­tal, tac­ti­cal and emo­tional as well,” Rogers said.

Head has al­ways pos­sessed the sear­ing stroke­play that can turn a match — high­lighted by an in­cred­i­ble, un­beaten New Year’s Eve 101 against Syd­ney Six­ers three years ago. The Strik­ers needed 51 off 18 balls win, Head smashed 56 in 15.

This win­ter Rogers took Head aside and told him pa­tience was a virtue at Test level and par­tic­u­larly in English con­di­tions. A new for­ward de­fence is Head’s best friend in the baggy green.

“Some­times when you play in con­di­tions like Eng­land the ball is swing­ing around cor­ners. That is where your best weapon is to rely on de­fence,” said bat­ting whis­perer and na­tional per­for­mance squad coach Rogers. “I watched a bit of Trav in Eng­land and a cou­ple of things I thought he was do­ing that would hin­der him hav­ing suc­cess in Eng­land — the shapes he was get­ting his body into. I think he has done some pretty good work with the coaches with South Aus­tralia and Aus­tralia.”

Test le­gend Ricky Ponting lamented the “sim­ple er­rors” from Aus­tralia’s top six in its first in­nings against In­dia and a first-class sys­tem where av­er­ages of 40 are a rar­ity.

Head’s ap­point­ment as SA’s youngest skip­per in Fe­bru­ary 2015 cor­re­sponded with an in­crease in his Sh­effield Shield bat­ting av­er­age from 28 to 41.

Head had the ca­pac­ity to adapt and thirst to elim­i­nate any weak­ness through re­lent­less prac­tice.

At­tacked around the wicket by bowlers, Head had to find an­swers and new scor­ing av­enues. Head’s 72 on de­but against Pak­istan helped achieve a draw in Dubai and the same score could save Aus­tralia’s ba­con in Ade­laide.

“It is not some­thing you fix straight away, you work out your an­gles and he thinks hard about the game,” said Rogers.

“He is one of the play­ers that is al­ways work­ing hard on his game and wants to get bet­ter.”

Le­gend Adam Gilchrist rates Head the key to a suc­cess­ful Aus­tralian re­build un­der coach Justin Langer.

“Travis Head could play a huge role in the fu­ture, not just with bat in hand,” said Fox Sports ex­pert Gilchrist.

“He is a young leader of his state team, re­ally promis­ing signs.”

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