Mon, 19 Nov 2018
18
New Delhi

Travis Head was in the middle of a rescue job with Peter Handscomb for Australia A when the senior team's squad was announced for the Test series against Pakistan next month. The news broke just as lunch was taken in Alur on the final day, and Head had to do his best to keep his composure when he found out.

"I was concentrating on batting and trying to get as many runs as I could. So I was in a bit of batting focus [when] I got the good news. It was difficult to make sure I'm adjusted to continue to bat and get the result that we wanted today," he said.

Head couldn't build on his start and fell soon after lunch for 47, but for the third time in four innings in this series, he had come in early at No. 3 and bailed Australia A out of a difficult situation.

In that sense, it has been a perfect series for Head, who finished with 206 runs at an average of 51.20 and was the highest run-scorer for the Australians. It comes at the end of a long push for Test selection, which had begun with the Sheffield Shield in 2017-18, where Head was the sixth-highest run-scorer. Along the way, he captained the Adelaide Strikers to the BBL title, and endured a disappointing season with Worcerstershire - two fifties and no hundreds in 11 innings - with whom he had signed to play a full season in a bid to boost his chances of a Test selection.

But it has all come together well for the left-hander in the end, even if the big scores have been elusive.

"It's been nice to have some consistency and be able to do it for a period of time. I feel like I'm playing really well, I've been batting probably the best I have been.

"Would've been nice to get a hundred but hopefully that's to come. I feel like I'm in really good form and it's just about continuing to do that and not change anything; go there and keep working, keep learning and developing my craft and continue to get better."

Head was among a slew of new faces in the Australia Test squad that was announced to great clamour on Tuesday, particularly because of the selectors' decision to leave out Glenn Maxwell. It was Australia's first squad announcement since the Newlands ball-tampering scandal and the vacuum left by the three banned players meant there were batting slots up for grabs.

Head was picked for having "improved his game immensely over the past 12 months," said Trevor Hohns, the selection chairman, also adding that Head was the "type of player we want in this environment."

"I'm ready for the challenge," Head said. "Again, I haven't really thought about it too much over this tour. It was just about going out doing what I really want to do and bat really well and have solid plans and do it for a long period of time.

"I was able to do it for the one-dayers and the four-dayers. So I go in confident that I can do a job and perform and win games for Australia. I'm really excited about that. I'm looking forward to getting my phone, seeing a couple of text messages and then make a few calls at the airport. I'm sure they [friends and family] are all going to be really happy and excited. It's a great few days to get home and relax and see everyone, and then go to Brisbane and get back to work."

Head is one of nine players from the Australia A squad who will be headed to Brisbane from Bengaluru, before the team flies out for a two-match series against Pakistan. Under Mitchell Marsh, Australia A had done impressively in a come-from-behind win in the first unofficial Test, and running India A close in the second before losing in fading light on the last day. The confidence from this series is something that could come to good use in the UAE.

"Yeah a little disappointed today not to get the series win," he said, "but I think as a team we've played some really good cricket. We've come over here in some challenging conditions and been able to execute our plans and do that at a pretty good standard. So as a team it's been a really good tour.

"We've got some good momentum from the guys over here going into UAE so if we continue our plans and continue to do it over a period of time then we'll continue to do better."

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