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England simply had no answer to Travis Head on the opening day of the fifth Ashes Test. That was until the Aussie batter brought about his own undoing.
Head scored a remarkable century (101 off 113 balls) on the opening day of the pink-ball Test, rescuing his side after they collapsed to 3-12.
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Australia will resume at 6-241 on Saturday, with Alex Carey (10no) and Mitchell Starc (yet to score) at the crease.
Head - following on from his swashbuckling century in game one at the Gabba - posted another brilliant ton to extinguish England's hope.
The visitors must have fancied themselves as favourites to snatch a morale-boosting victory in Hobart after being completely dominated in three of the four previous Tests.
With his top order sent packing and his side in disarray, Head steadied the ship by combining with Marnus Labuschagne (44 runs), before the first drop threw his wicket away in a moment of madness.
Head then struck up another superb partnership with Cameron Green to rescue his side and set up what looks to be a formidable total on a Bellerive green top.
Many of Head's 101 runs came on the off-side, as the flashy left-hander blasted England's bowlers to all parts of the boundary on that side.
Joe Root's became so desperate to stop the in-form batter from feasting on off-side runs that the England captain littered that side of the ground with fielders, in an effort to stem the bleeding.
Incredible images on social media showed the tourists had at least 5 men square of the wicket on the off-side but it still wasn't enough to stop Head.
— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) January 14, 2022
Travis Head is in insane touch
— Will Macpherson (@willis_macp) January 14, 2022
Fox Sports commentator Mike Hussey said it was an "incredible" knock from the Aussie batter, considering the dire situation his side was in when the 28-year-old came to the crease.
“I have been so impressed with Travis Head, you think back to the very first Test match of the series up at the Gabba, and he came in and he scored 152 but he came in later," Hussey said.
“After all the hard work that Labuschagne and David Warner did earlier in the day and he was able to come out and play with such freedom.
“But this has been a completely different situation, he came to the wicket when Australia was 3-12 and he still came out and played with that same positive frame of mind.
“Incredible innings so far.”
Fellow Aussie Test great Mark Waugh added: “He has dined out on length, anything full he has just thrown his hands at, he has been in a good position."
Head was "bitterly disappointed" to fall for 101, chipping a catch to Ollie Robinson immediately after celebrating his second hundred of the five-Test series.
Speaking after stumps, he likened the challenging Hobart pitch to conditions in England and said Australia will be in with a great chance if they can record a first innings score above 300.
Hobart conditions more similar to those in England
"Traditionally in Australia, it's (aiming at) that 400-plus score," Head said.
"Anything over 300 (in Hobart) is going to be a great start.
"The conditions, pink ball - we probably look at it more like a bowler-friendly (pitch).
"When we played in the UK, in the 2019 Ashes, it was all about 300. Getting to 300 and past 300.
"We know if we get enough runs, we have a high-quality bowling attack. Batting tomorrow as long as we possibly can is going to be key."
Head, who counter-punched in style after magnificent opening spells from Ollie Robinson and Stuart Broad, reckons batting will become notably easier after the shine wears off the new ball.
"It's going to be a tough new-ball wicket, as we saw," he said.
"As that ball gets softer over time, it's about identifying the moments and tempo of the game - (knowing) when we might need to change and look at different plans.
"We've definitely got the bowling attack to take 20 wickets."
Head added it was too early to consider the importance of his knock of 101, relative to other career highlights.
"I'm disappointed I wasn't able to go on and get a big score," he said.
"In terms of where my innings sits, we'll wait and see.
Play will resume at 2.30pm AEDT on Saturday after rain resulted in a delayed start and early finish to the opening day of the final Test.
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