Former Australian Test captain Tim Paine has applauded Pat Cummins' courageous call to bring on part-time spinner Travis Head in Australia's three-wicket World Cup semi-final win over South Africa. Cummins made the call to bring Head into the bowling attack when South Africa had bounced back from 4-24 to 4-111.
After being put away for back-to-back boundaries in his first two balls, Head clean bowled Klassen for 47 before trapping Marco Jansen in front the very next ball. Head finished with figures of 2-21 from his five overs as the Aussies knocked over South Africa out for 212.
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He also chipped in with 62 runs with the bat as Australia chased down the run total and booked their spot in the Cricket World Cup final against India on Sunday. Head's heroics saw him named Man of the Match.
Paine believes Cummins’ bold decision to bring on the part-timer changed the game and says it was a risky one considering Klassen and Miller are both known to play spin well. “When he brought Travis Head on, it was a gutsy move because Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller were in and they were forming a bit of a partnership,” Paine said on SEN Mornings.
“They're probably two of their most dangerous and best players of spin. For Pat Cummins to throw ‘Heady’ the ball, I mean, Heady can bowl, he's got some skill, he bowls a beautiful off-spinner… it’s just in amongst a little bit of rubbish, which a part-timer can do. But he can bowl balls that can get very good players out and we saw that last night.”
Former Australian captains called the Head change-up
Just before being handed the ball both Ricky Ponting and Aaron Finch who were commentating on the match suggested bringing Head into the attack. While the former Australian skippers all seem to be on the same wavelength as Cummins, Paine says it is the current Australian captain who deserves all the praise as he was the one who ultimately made the call.
“We were having a laugh before because one of the biggest things on social media that was picked up last night was that Ricky Ponting and Aaron Finch were sitting in the commentary box and said, ‘Oh, I think it'd be a good time to bowl Travis Head potentially’,” Paine said.
“That became the story on social media and not the fact that Pat Cummins - the man under the heat and having to make the decision to bring Travis Head on - didn’t get as much credit as I thought he should have gotten. I thought it was a super call, it was a gutsy call and it paid off. Obviously Travis Head delivered for him in spades.”
Aussies struggled against South Africa's spin
Paine was quick to point out that although Australia got the win against the Proteas, their batting against spin is definitely an area of concern heading into Sunday's final. The Indians would have been watching Australia's struggles against the turning ball in Kolkata and Paine says it's an area Australia coach Andrew McDonald will need to address.
“For the Aussies, one big issue they need to get right is their play of spin,” Paine told SEN Tassie Breakfast. “Last night they were 3-64 off 20 overs against a quality of spin that is only going to go up a gear in the World Cup Final. At one stage we were 2-106 then fell to 7-193. We lost 5-87 in the middle 25 overs, and if we do that against India, the game is going to be over.”
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