Not ‘all guns blazing’: Head’s balancing act as Aussies keep one eye on the skies

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Travis Head insists there is more to his rampant one-day batting style than simply death-or-glory hitting, but won’t hesitate to start swinging should the circumstances demand in the World Cup semi-final against South Africa.

As the Australians prepare to face the Proteas on Thursday – albeit with one eye on the skies, as forecast torrential rain threatens to disrupt the clash – Head insisted there was a “balance” to his batting.

“It’s just making sure I try and get that right,” said Head, who missed the first five games of the tournament with a broken hand. “It was nice to contribute in the first game, and it’s been a bit lean in the last couple.”

Head’s first game of the tournament was a must-win tie against New Zealand, after Australia had lost their first two matches and won their next three to keep their finals hopes alive. A brutal display of power hitting by Head, who made 109 from 67 balls, helped Australia to a five-run win and inspired memorable knocks from Glenn Maxwell (201 not out) and Mitchell Marsh (177 not out) in the following two games as Australia charged towards the finals.

But since his triumphant return, Head’s past three matches have netted a total of just 21 runs with a top score of 11.

“I feel like I try and give myself the best chance to score off balls that I feel like I can and respect the ones in between,” he said. “I think you have to do that. It’s international cricket, so I don’t think it’s all guns blazing every time.

Australia’s Travis Head was on fire against New Zealand in Dharamshala.Credit: AP

“You hope you’re in good positions to score and put the bowlers under pressure, but if they bowl well you’ve got to be able to get through it. So it’s definitely a balancing act. I feel like I’m in a good mindset to give myself the best chance to be as positive as I can be.”

While Head has a reputation of being susceptible to the short ball, he does not believe South Africa’s high-quality pace attack will specifically target him. Nor is he concerned that it was Gerald Coetzee who broke the batsman’s hand when Head attempted a pull shot off a delivery bowled at him during a one-day series in South Africa two months ago.

“I said to Gerald at the time I’m sure he didn’t mean to hit me in the hand. It was probably aimed a little bit higher than that,” Head joked. “But that’s all part of the game. So I take a relaxed approach to all that sort of stuff whether it’s performance or injuries.

“He did me a favour, I got four weeks at home with the family, so I got refreshed to come back. And hopefully I can be refreshed and energised and can perform at the back end of the tournament. It might be a blessing in disguise.”

Travis Head after being dismissed against Afghanistan.Credit: Getty

While they must overcome South Africa and a dodgy weather forecast, Head believes the Australians are primed for a charge towards their sixth World Cup title.

“I’m sure everyone has thought about that,” Head said. “It hasn’t really been spoken about as a group, but we know what’s at the end of this tournament and what’s up for grabs.”

He pointed out that Australia’s World Cup campaign really began in August.

“We’ve been on tour for so long,” Head said. “In South Africa we played a T20 series and a one-day series, then a one-day series against India when we got here and a couple of warm-up games. The boys have been invested for a long time so if we’re going to spend that much time here we might as well try and go the whole way. So that’s been the motivation that we’ve got this far.

“You’ve got to make the semis to give yourself a chance and if we do things right in a couple of days’ time we find ourselves in a final. That’s in the future, but geez, we’ve put in a lot of hard work over the last couple of months to get to this stage, so we want to make the most of it.”

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