Travis Head saga sparks age-old drinking debate after World Cup heroics

Australia's World Cup-winning star seemed a little worse for wear after days of revelry.

Pictured here is Aussie batting star Travis Head after Australia's Cricket World Cup triumph.
Aussie hero Travis Head looked a little worse for wear (L) after days of celebrating Australia's Cricket World Cup triumph. Pic: X/Getty

When asked if Cricket World Cup hero Travis Head was going to play a T20 international following three days' solid celebrations, teammate Mitch Marsh quipped: "I'm no selector or coach but if he plays that game, it’ll be a miracle." Head would have been seeing three balls had he been forced to pad up after batting Australia to victory against India and partying like it was 1999 and 2999 rolled into one.

He was sensibly left out of the starting XI but should have sobered up by the time the visitors play their second game of the five-match series against India on Sunday. Medical experts tell us you can't out-exercise a hangover.

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"Although it may help assuage your guilt to lift some weights or swim some laps after overindulging, there's no hard evidence that working out after drinking can help make you feel human again any faster," one medical site informs. But how many times have you heard a mate boast they were at their best following a night on the cans?

Is it possible to play sport, even at the top level, after a big session on the sauce? Before the advent of nutritionists and dietitians – not to mention strict codes of conduct - Australian sporting history was littered with stories of players going DUI (Deeds Under the Influence).

Australia's long history of sporting stars who liked a drink

Tennis champion John Newcombe was once described as a "black belt drinker" by friend and former US president George Bush. Rugby league Immortal Johnny Raper was renowned for sweating out the night before with a big run the next morning, invariably going on to win man-of-the-match honours later that day.

Golfer Jack Newton, a drinker and smoker from his teens and a regular at the "19th hole", won the Australian Open and finished runner-up to Tom Watson in the 1975 British Open. Cricket, where you can spend more time off the field than on it, leads the way when it comes to combining booze, bowling and batting.

Fox Sports commentator and former Australian leg spinner Kerry O'Keeffe says his finest moment in Test cricket came after a day on the drink with teammates Rod Marsh and Doug Walters. "They carried me into the taxi, at 2am, put me in bed, I woke up, blood alcohol of .258," O'Keeffe recalled.

Cricket great Kerry O'Keeffe reckons his best Test feat for Australia came after a big night on the drink. Pic: Getty
Cricket great Kerry O'Keeffe reckons his best Test feat for Australia came after a big night on the drink. Pic: Getty

"Got to the Adelaide Oval, someone said ‘gee, Skull’s nervous’ as I was chundering in the toilets. (Somehow I've taken) 3-42 and I’m going to the showers at the end of the day, and Doug says, ‘having a beer?’

"I said ‘no!’ And he said, ‘if you stay pissed you’ll get a five-for in the second innings.’" Walters famously loved a beer no matter the state of the game, recording his highest Test score (250 against New Zealand) after a 5am bender in the hotel bar. That's enough evidence for us.

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