Fantastic, Asked In A Partnership With Smith - Head > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Fantastic to bat in a partnership with Smith - Head
Australian middle order batsman Travis Head was all praise for fellow teammate Steve Smith who marked his Test comeback with twin tons in the first Ashes Test against England at Edgbaston. The duo worked well as a pair, notching up a 64-run stand in the first innings and a more pivotal partnership of 130 in the second innings. In what was his Ashes debut, Head underlined the importance of having a batting partner like Smith at the other end.
"It's fantastic to bat in a partnership with him," gushed Head who recorded scores of 35 and 51. "He sucks the momentum out of the opposition with his batting. I was glad to be with him in this game. Nice to get a couple of good partnerships."
The first innings association came at a time when Australia were tottering at 35/3 on the first morning of the game. On his part, Head looked fluent after a sedate beginning and just when it appeared like he had settled in, he got pinned by a nip-backer from Chris Woakes. The southpaw admitted that he should have converted the start into a more defining contribution.
"Happy with the way I started off," Head remarked. "Obviously disappointing not to go on in the first innings. I was a bit flat about leaving Smith at that time (in the first innings). Fortunately, the tail were able to stay with him. Frustrating to not be able to go on to make a big one but it felt good to get that partnership in the second innings. The way I've been able to start in both the innings, I guess I've been able to adapt to the conditions."
Head's second innings contribution was vital, given that Australia were still trailing by 15 when he had joined Smith at the crease on the third day. The duo not only negotiated things till stumps that day but also weathered the all-important first hour on day four to lead the Aussie fightback. Looking back on his knocks, Head was quick to point out the cushion Smith provides as a partner.
"Him at the other end obviously takes pressure off me because they're trying hard to get him out and I was glad to be away from the radar. Hopefully a lot more batting to do in the remaining four Tests together. I know I can get into a rhythm with him at the other end. I know he isn't going anywhere."
One key factor in Australia's victory was the patience levels of the bowling unit that kept probing away without allowing the England batsmen to score at a fair clip. Even when there was a sizeable partnership brewing, there was always a check on the scoring rates. Head revealed that it was a conscious effort on the part of the team to execute in this regard.
"We spoke about it, we didn't mind going for wickets but the key was to consolidate and keep the scoreboard quiet," he pointed out. "We knew that if we were able to do that, there would be enough deliveries in the good areas to create opportunities. I think the thought will be same for the whole series. It's about minimizing how much they score, sometimes it can be defensive but it's about holding onto the chances. I think we had a good mix between picking wickets and containing the scoreboard."
Another highlight was the manner in which the Australian batsmen handled England off-spinner Moeen Ali. In recent years, the Australians have shown remarkable improvement when it comes to handling spin in Tests. The tours to India and Bangladesh in 2017 were quite impressive, and the hard-fought draw against Pakistan in UAE last year was also laudable. The performance at Edgbaston was equally clap-worthy, given the help that the off spinners were getting from the surface.
"Very fortunate to have Steve at the other end," Head said. "He's one of the best players of spin. I definitely didn't have the plan of going after him (Moeen) as it's harder for left-handers. I was just making sure that I was staying in. Wadey obviously has the reverse sweep, so he really put some pressure on him. He batted really beautifully. For left-handers, it was really tough throughout the Test match."
Head also felt that Australia handled the seamers with a balanced mindset. Not only did the tourists soak up the early pressure on the fourth day but also managed to score freely, rattling up a whopping 363 runs, thereby swelling the lead to 397. The fast pace of scoring also meant that the Australians had enough runs on the board to go on an all-out attack against England - a crucial aspect considering the slow nature of the pitch.
"I think we scored beautifully against all the bowlers, It was an unbelievable day (on day 4). I don't think anyone came to the ground thinking that we could do what we did. In the dressing room, we were confident but not to the extent of the runs we ended up scoring. With the trend of the three days prior, the way the game was going, and to have a day like that just put us in a beautiful position."
With this Ashes encounter being the first Test since comeback for the banned Australian trio, it was expected that the ever-enthusiastic English crowd would get into the face of things. Quite predictably, there were boos for all three during their batting stints and even while fielding, there were enough visual banters and placards. That said, the players took it sportingly, as was evident from David Warner's 'pockets-out' gesture.
On his part, Head said that he enjoyed the experience of his maiden Ashes game. "Definitely felt the buzz out there when they were charging in on day one," he said. "Same again on day four. It was special. It's always nice to take it in. I was trying to do what I had to and not getting up and down emotionally." The South Australian also chose to see the brighter side of things, given the dreary nature of Test match cricket.
"The crowds were good. There was some banter but I think the guys took it all in good spirit.They (crowd) did sing a catchy couple of tunes. They kept changing stuff during the five days of the game. Sometimes it can be really lonely near the boundary, so it was fun to watch them go about it, some good costumes too."
Australia have a practice game at Worcester, scheduled a week before the second Test that starts at Lord's on August 14. Having played for the County before, Head hoped that his team could make optimum use of the warm-up game. Unlike the usual trend of host countries giving visiting teams a fringe line-up to play against, he felt that Worcestershire would have a squad that had fine red-ball skills.
"I'm looking forward to the game. Missed a chance to play there during the A tour. Might be a similar type of wicket, quite slow and quite good for batting. I think they'll field a pretty strong team. I think they're in the midst of One-Day cricket but they've got a few guys who're more suited to red-ball cricket than white-ball cricket. They've got a split divide in that. Their bowling side should be used to red-ball cricket."
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