ASHES: Travis Head hits a great final test century as Australia battles to frustrate England on day one


Australia dominated the Ashes so much that even when England reduced them to 12 to three in their first 10 Test runs, it’s no surprise to see them regain full control by the end of the first day.

Twelve for three, that is, with David Warner (22 balls) and Steve Smith (two balls) going for the ducks, Osman Khawaja – a twin buzzer in the SCG – is on his way to just six. Rain delayed the start by 30 minutes, Joe Root won the lottery, the court was green, and conditions felt meant for bowling. England had all the early features, Stuart Broad and Ole Robinson were great, but Australia still fought back.

From there, until the very light rain ended the day’s play about two hours earlier (just after 9pm), Australia was already pressed to add 229 for three in the next 50. Play resumes 30 minutes early on the second day because only 59.3 overages can be thrown.

Marnus Labuschagne had his fight again put his way, before a real comedian was sent off, who ended up on his knees after being thrown behind his legs through a full Broad delivery. It was a stroke of arrogance from Labuchagny, who left the field, embarrassed, from the icy pace that had become his trademark.

Marnus Labuschagne after he threw Stuart Broad

/ Getty Images

That didn’t bother Travis Head, who is back from Covid-19 to score his second stunning century in the streak. The first, a tuner in Brisbane, consisted of 85 balls. That was a little slower, at 112 balls, but better, although the ball was sent off after he reached the feat, as Chris Woks – whom he treated with absolute contempt – ran into the middle of the field.

Damage occurred. Head shared a speedy run of 71 with Labuschagne and 121 with Cameron Green, who soon had another half century.

Australia was fed by England’s wilted bowlers. The England team for the final test run of the Ashes series is often an exotic breed, and this one is a classic of the genre. It was marked by five changes. Featured debut, Sam Billings. It featured two hitters, Rory Burns and Olly Pop (to injured Johnny Bairstow), who were dropped just two Tests before. Featured in the game is a multi-skilled player, Ben Stokes, who plays as a specialized racket.

Stokes’ inability to play the full role always throws England at it. So, while they usually hand debuts to a spinner in the final Ashes audition, they decided to drop Jack Leach this time.

It felt like a four-man seam attack was thrown together. However, under the circumstances, and with Jimmy Anderson unable to stand a fourth consecutive game (he suffers from hamstring and back pain, so his only role was to offer Billings his hat), the attack seemed just right.


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