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Delhi: Even as Travis Head lay on a couch at home in Adelaide, playing with one-year-old daughter Millie and half-watching the World Cup, he was more a part of Australia’s squad than the reserves who were with the team, and he says he is grateful to the selectors for their show of faith.
Now that he’s in India, he’s bent on repaying it.
Head was central to Australia’s plans until he suffered a broken left hand in a warm-up match in South Africa last month. Instead of replacing him, the selectors sent him home to see how quickly he could recover while avoiding surgery, meanwhile holding his spot.
Travis Head at the team hotel in Delhi.Credit: Getty Images
“It’s not something that I expected at the time,” Head said. “[I went] through a range of emotions through those three or four days early on, to think that I sort of missed a chance. And I felt like I was contributing well.
“When it first happened I thought my chances were done. But as those three or four days played out, and [I got] back to Sydney and [saw the] specialist, there was definitely light at the end of the tunnel.
“It was nice to have the confidence to hold me. A lot had to go right.”
Travis Head in full flight in Bloemfontein before he broke his hand.Credit: Getty Images
Head said he was also conscious that another injury in the squad would have doomed him. Australia could afford to carry one invalid in its 15, but not two.
Head’s left arm and hand have wasted a little after four weeks in a splint, and he said he was not yet back to full power. “I’ve never been a big boy, but it’s definitely a little bit skinny,” he said. “I don’t hit massive sixes anyway, so maybe I’ve just got to keep it on the carpet a little bit more, but I’m not too fazed by it.”
He’s been cautious with fielding and catching drills, but his right, bowling arm is unaffected.
Head said the prospect of rejoining the squad only crystallised in his mind when the splint came off at four weeks and a scan showed that the broken bone was mending at the necessary rate. He resumed by facing tennis balls, then on Saturday power-assisted throwdowns from the Australian coaching panel. He said his progress was necessarily day by day.
Travis Head talks to media in Delhi.Credit: Getty Images.
“I had a really good hit yesterday,” he said. “I think each session is getting better but [I’ve] got to be mindful of the fact that it was five weeks [only] a couple of days ago.
“Everything seems to be going well. But it’s how I wake up this morning. It’s how I can potentially back up tomorrow and train and there’s still a few things I need to tick off.”
Head said he’d never been one to torture himself mentally in these circumstances and the physical pain was bearable. “You can deal with it as long as I’m not doing any damage to it, and I’ve got the confidence to know that I’m not doing damage to it,” he said. “A little bit of pain’s OK.
“It feels a lot better than it did last week after a hit. There’s obviously some stiffness here but [it] feels pretty good. It’s important to understand that like the process and not trying to rush it too much because that can set us back, but it feels good.”
Australia face the Netherlands on Wednesday and the selectors must decide whether this relatively straightforward fixture is best used to reintroduce Head, or give him further time to rehabilitate before Australia take on New Zealand next Saturday. When Head does return, the most likely player to make way is Marnus Labuschagne.
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