‘He’s always been a leader’: Head gets nod as future captain of Australia

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Australia have named a predictable team for the present, and nominated Travis Head as a captain of the future, before the first Test against Pakistan, beginning in Perth on Thursday.

While Australia’s fastest bowler, Lance Morris, was overlooked for the attack, Head has been appointed as a vice captain with Steve Smith.

Captain Pat Cummins, 30, said the appointment did not guarantee Head, 30 this month, the job as Australia’s next skipper, but sung his praises.

“He’s always been a leader in our group, so we thought it was a good time to formally recognise that,” Cummins said after training at Perth Stadium on Wednesday.

“While nothing’s imminent, Steve [Smith, 34] is not going to play forever, I dare say I’m not going to captain them forever, so we feel like we’ve got some responsibility to future-proof the team and start trying to give opportunities to other leaders.

“It doesn’t guarantee anything, but we’ve given him a good opportunity. So when you look through candidates for future captains, of course he’s going to be right up there. And I know in my last couple of years before I became captain, being in some of those conversations as a vice captain really helped fast track my readiness.”

Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh watch on at training during the week.Credit: Getty

Cummins said teammates “love” the personality Head brings.

“You see it in the way he plays his cricket,” Cummins said. “There’s a certain amount of freedom to it; he takes the game on, he enjoys it. He’s always got a smile on his face, he never takes anything too seriously.

“He’s great at bringing the team together for team morale, for putting his arm around players that need it. Sometimes you can mistake that for someone who’s not a deep thinker about the game, but I think tactically, he’s excellent.”

A long-serving captain of South Australia after being appointed the state’s youngest leader, Head was previously Test co-vice captain with Cummins under Tim Paine from January 2019 to November 2020.

Pakistan captain Shan Masood and Australian counterpart Pat Cummins with the Benaud-Qadir Trophy in Perth.Credit: Getty

The only change to the Australian team from the fifth and final Ashes Test at the Oval, where England levelled a controversial series 2-2, is the return of Nathan Lyon, following a serious calf injury, in place of his heir apparent Todd Murphy.

“Lance has been impressive this week [at training], really impressive,” Cummins said. “But every Test match you pick your best 11. There’s World Test Championship points you play for every game. It’s a Test match for Australia.”

The Australians were still playing Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence at training this week as a continuing celebration of their ODI World Cup victory over India last month.

It became the team’s anthem as a crowd of almost 100,000 went mute in the final at Ahmedabad, but the song could also sum up what the Australians will experience at Perth Stadium in their first appearance since that victory.

Lance Morris has been overlooked for his Test debut.Credit: Getty Images

While the 60,000-seat state-of-the-art stadium attracted crowds of 43,000 and 53,000 for Big Bash finals matches last season, only 15,000 are expected on Thursday after earlier optimistic estimates of 20,000 and 25,000.

“When you’re talking about World Cup finals, it’s the pinnacle,” Cummins said. “We’re still on a high from that, it’s not going to get much better from that, but I’m sure it’s going to be well supported here.

“Some of the Test matches you play in Australia, you might not get the packed stadium, but there’s going to be millions of people watching. It’s kind of the start of their summer, that first ball of the first Test match.”

Pakistan are expected to play an all-pace attack, with Salman Agha offering part-time spin.

Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (c), Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

Pakistan (likely): Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood (c), Babar Azam, Saud Shakeel, Salman Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi.

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