WTC Final Day by Day Coverage


WTC 2023 Final: Australia Day 1 Scorecard 


Australia batting

David Warner 43 (60)

Usman Khawaja 0 (10)

Marnus Labuschagne 26 (62)

Steve Smith* 95 (227)

Travis Head* 146 (156) 

India bowling

Mohammad Shami 1/77 (20)

Mohammad Siraj 1/67 (19)

Umesh Yadav 0/54 (14)

Shardul Thakur 1/75 (18)

Ravindra Jadeja 0/48 (14)

Day-1 is dedicated to Travis Head

Travis Head has long been perceived as a batsman in a constant hurry, as if he were racing against time to prove himself. It’s no surprise, then, that he often emerges aggressively, taking the attack to the opposition. Yet, despite several rapid cameos, he struggled to consistently produce substantial scores, leading to understandable doubts when selectors left him out of the team, both at home and on away tours.

However, perhaps our judgment was misguided. Maybe it was Australian cricket itself that was impatient, yearning for Travis Head to fulfill the immense potential he displayed as a prodigy a decade ago. Unbeknownst to many, it was only a matter of time before he showcased his true abilities. All that was required was patience from the Australian cricket establishment.

When we examine Head’s captivating Test career through this lens, it becomes apparent that we may have failed to grasp the brilliance of this left-handed South Australian batsman. While the 29-year-old has always been known for his attacking style, characterized by boundaries all around the ground, his inclination to seek runs has often been seen as an uncontrollable urge to find scoring opportunities even when none exist.

However, in the past 18 months or so, especially during his first away Test century at The Oval in the World Test Championship final, Head has proven that his seemingly risky batting style is anything but. In fact, Head doesn’t approach his innings as if he is taking risks. It is instinct and impulse that drive him, relying on his skills and decision-making at the crease. This audacity, perceived by many, is what makes him a destructive batter for his country. It is also the reason behind his recent trend of significant scores and match-turning contributions when the team is in trouble.

When Head walked out to bat at The Oval on Wednesday, the game was not slipping away from Australia, but it was veering towards India. David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne, both well-set batsmen, had been dismissed in quick succession after the lunch break. Mohammed Shami and Mohammad Siraj, who had bowled impressively with the new ball, regained their rhythm in the second session. India’s decision to bowl first on the overcast morning seemed justified, with Steve Smith struggling to settle at the other end.

Then, as he has done so frequently in recent months, Head changed the course of the game. However, unlike his previous heroics, this innings did not involve daredevilry.

Of the first 16 deliveries he faced that day, Head dispatched six to the boundary. Each shot seemed perfectly placed and well-timed. When the Indian bowlers erred in line and length, he effortlessly flicked them through the on-side. If given any width, he cut them away with precision.

Without being overly aggressive, Head forced the Indian fielders to retreat and diverted attention from the plans devised for Smith. He then navigated a charged-up Siraj, displaying his ability to adapt and switch gears when needed.

Head’s progress from 50 to 100 showcased his expanded range of strokes since the subcontinent tours last year. While he has always excelled at cutting and flicking, he now appears comfortable driving deliveries pitched on a length and moving away, leaving little room for error by the fast bowlers. His scoring rate was matter-of-fact and did not seem like a counterattack.

This was Travis Head trusting himself to be the best version of Travis Head. It also allowed Smith to settle and lay a solid foundation on the Oval pitch, not only for this Test but for the crucial five that follow. Even after reaching his century, Head continued to hunger for more, carrying on the aggressive approach he often adopts in Sheffield Shield cricket. He remained relentless until the end of the day’s play, striking boundaries off Siraj to further strengthen Australia’s position.

Head possesses a unique ability to influence games without appearing to exert excessive effort. This reputation has only been further enhanced in this momentous Test match, and we can expect it to continue during the upcoming Ashes series. Head is proving his point, leaving his mark, and doing so at his own pace. Australia’s wait for him to become a game-changer is finally over. His time is now. This summer belongs to Travis Head.