Top-order ODI role is Head’s, not tails

Sri Lanka take 2-1 series lead after record partnership

Travis Head continued his outstanding 50-over form in a fresh middle-order role but the left-hander has flatly insisted that position is not a long-term proposition.

Demoted to No.6 for Sunday’s third ODI defeat against Sri Lanka, Head held together the Australian innings as he scored an unbeaten 70 off 65 balls to fire the visitors to a strong total which he said they should have defended.

Since March last year, the South Australian is averaging 66.63 in List A cricket with four hundreds in 22 innings. Opening in ODIs in Pakistan earlier this year, he bashed scores of 101, 89 and 0.

But with Aaron Finch and David Warner returning to their opening roles in Sri Lanka, Head is resigned to biding his time for a top-order spot and suggested his middle-order role is temporary.

“I think my opportunity will come in a fair while at the top of the order,” he said.

“That’s the feedback I’ve got and it’s been well publicized that I’ve got to wait for my opportunity with two world-class players at the top.

“I’m adaptable but I don’t think that (batting at six) will be my role moving forward in the future.”

With ODI regulars Marcus Stoinis and Steve Smith missing with injury, Head found himself further down with the returning Mitch Marsh taking the No.3 spot, a position the allrounder has thrived in for the T20 side.

By his own admission, Head struggled for fluency at the start of his innings on Sunday after Australia’s top four were all dismissed shortly after their innings’ halfway point.

He built a 72-run stand with Alex Carey and after taking a backseat to a Glenn Maxwell cameo, the 28-year-old then exploded to belt three sixes off the penultimate over of the innings and see 33 runs come off the final 12 balls .

“Missing a couple of guys through that late-finishing role at six, it was just an opportunity that comes,” said Head.

“Mitch Marsh came back into the side, that’s a long-term role for him to beat three in this team, it’s good to have him back in the team.

“Stoinis missing opened that role for me so I’ve got to take it wherever I can fit in. I probably didn’t start as fast or as well as I would have liked but worked through it, worked the partnerships with ‘Kez’ and ‘Greeny’ (Carey and Cameron Green) and back-ended it.

“I felt like I played a nice role… It’s just nice to get a role in the team to play one-day cricket.”

Head is more settled in the Test side but will be eager to improve on his return of 68 runs at 23 from four innings in the Tests against Pakistan earlier this year when the two-Test campaign against Sri Lanka gets underway later this month.

Head swings momentum with stunning Ashes ton

He was named player of the Ashes series during the home summer after making centuries in Brisbane and Hobart on fast-bowler friendly surfaces.

Pitches in Galle will provide a different challenge and Australia are expecting significant turn for their first red-ball games on the island in six years.

“I’m playing well. I think there’s still a lot of work to continue to do for when we go into that format,” said Head.

“But I felt like here and in Kandy (for the second ODI), I’ve played spin quite well. They’re challenging wickets, there’s no doubt about that.

“There’s going to be times where it looks doesn’t look the best and it’s going to be tough and we (will have to) grind through that.

“I feel like I’m sharp, I feel like I’m moving well.

“I think we’ve still got to be positive on the wickets when we move into the Test series, and still find opportunities to score and put pressure back on the bowlers.”

Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka, 2022

June 7: Australia won first T20 by 10 wickets

June 8: Australia won second T20 by three wickets

June 11: Sri Lanka won third T20 by four wickets

Sri Lanka ODI squad: Dasun Shanaka (c), Pathum Nissanka, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Niroshan Dickwella, Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Asitha Fernando, Nuwan Thushara, Ramesh Mendis, Maheesh Theekshana, Praveen Jayawickrama, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lahiru Madushanka, Dunith Wellalage, Pramod Madushan

Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Matt Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc , Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

June 14: Australia won by two wickets (DLS)

June 16: Sri Lanka won by 26 runs (DLS)

June 19: Sri Lanka won by six wickets

June 21: Fourth ODI, Colombo, 7pm AEST

June 24: Fifth ODI, Colombo, 7pm AEST

Sri Lanka Test squad (provisional): Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Pathum Nissanka, Kamil Mishara, Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya De Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Chamika Karunaratne, Ramesh Mendis, Mohamed Shiraz, Shiran Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lakshitha Rasanjana, Praveen Jayawickrama, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suminda Lakshan

Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

June 29 – July 3: First Test, Galle, 2.30pm AEST

July 8-12: Second Test, Galle, 2.30pm AEST

All Sri Lanka v Australia international fixtures will be screened live on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports

Australia A fixtures

Australia A squad: Scott Boland, Aaron Hardie, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Henry Hunt, Josh Inglis, Matthew Kuhnemann, Nic Maddinson, Nathan McAndrew, Todd Murphy, Jimmy Peirson, Josh Philippe, Matt Renshaw, Tanveer Sangha, Mark Steketee

Sri Lanka A one-day squad: Dhananjaya de Silva (c), Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Udara, Lasith Croospulle, Oshada Fernando, Pabasara Waduge, Kamindu Mendis, Ashen Bandara, Janitha Liyanage, Sahan Arachchi, Pulina Tharanga, Dunith Wellalage, Dananjaya Lakshan, Shiran Fernando (will not play due to injury), Dilshan Madushanka, Pramod Madushan, Nishan Madushka, Ashen Daniel, Nisala Tharaka

June 8: Australia A won by seven wickets

June 10: Sri Lanka A won by four wickets

June 14-17: Australia A won by 68 runs

June 21-24: four-day match v Sri Lanka A, Hambantota

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