Travis Head, the Australian middle-order batsman was taking questions in a video interview released by Cricket Australia. Here's the full interview.
What the hundred at MCG meant to you
There has been plenty of time to look back and what a great day it was. To be able to put us in a position to win the game was the most important part. The work I did leading into that Test match coming from Perth, the things in the game that I have been working so hard to be able to that for long periods of time was satisfying. Nice to look back on things I did during that week and hopefully implement them this season and in the future too.
Do you feel you need to continuously prove yourself to keep you place in the Test side?
Playing for Australia, need runs most times you go out to bat. You need to continue to win games of cricket for Australia. Batting at No. 6 probably led to most of the conversations around whether there’ll be an allrounder in the team or not. I knew that the pressure was going to be on me, being the No. 6 batter. Those pressures are just part and parcel of the game. For me, it’s just trying go out and perform as much as I can and try to prove that I’m good enough to be in that team and continue to be picked. So, hopefully, I am keeping myself in the team more often than not.
Thoughts on Adelaide Oval hosting all Tests against India
Not saying that I’ve spoken to the boys a lot about. It’ll be nice to stay at home the whole summer personally. Adelaide Oval is such a good ground. You need a ground, in the fact that fact that we have drop in wickets. Hoffy (Damian Hough, Adelaide Oval pitch curator) does an exceptional job. If it was down to that, I know definitely Adelaide Oval would be able to hold that and the ground would be able to withstand back-to-back Test matches. You can drop it when you need it. We’ve had instances where there have been A-League (football) games or rugby league games, concerts going on where (the ground staff) have been able to prepare a… Shield wicket and drop it in in the middle of the square a day out of the game or two days out of the game and it has played as you wouldn’t even know. So I guess having the power to be able to drop wickets in when we need it creates an opportunity to potentially be able to do that.
How are you and the players taking this period?
Trying to stay as fit as I can be. We have the pre-season starting in a couple of weeks’ time. So, fingers crossed, we can get back to that. We’ve been fortunate in Adelaide with the restrictions starting to ease over the last couple of days. It’s looking like we’re going to training as a group. Getting into a pre-season, looking forward to the challenges after that and getting back with the boys. Doesn’t look like England will be very likely for me this year and I’ll be at home doing pre-season.
What’s your mindset around limited-overs cricket? What are you working on to force you way back into the Australian team?
For me it was going back to South Australia in the one-day format of the game and performing and when I got my opportunity in the Big Bash to do the same. I’d love to be back in that team, something I’m working very hard on. Test cricket, one-day cricket, we want to see guys get hundreds and throughout the A tour. Going back to South Australia, going back to win games of cricket and then in the Big Bash, go back and win games for the Strikers or for South Australia and continue to work on that middle-overs game, trying to bat and make big scores. Something that I am desperate to trying to get back in. All we can do is try and keep performing, work on my off-spin, trying to give other options to try and get myself back in that team.
What experience can you take from the previous India series?
We’ve come a long way. It’ll be nice to have another crack at them on home soil. The key moments of the game against India, I think since then we have shown with our batting line-up been able to score big runs against quality attacks. In those pressure situations, we didn’t deal well against them (India) as we would have liked especially when we got to Melbourne and Sydney on better batting wickets to be able to really put their bowlers under pressure. Some guys got more Test match cricket under their belts. I didn’t see Steve (Smith) and David (Warner) into that team, we started to push them harder. Those key moments are the ones you look back on in that series. We weren’t able to keep them on the field for as long as we would have liked and had the runs to give our world-class bowling attack, who have won us a lot of games over the last 12 months the opportunity to bowl them out.
Did you have doubts about yourself in Test cricket after being dropped from The Oval Test?
I would have loved to have one of those scores in The Ashes series as a big score. The way I started in The Ashes series, the way I started to bat, in the moments of the game, I was able to be in. Disappointed I didn’t have the big score which would have kept me in the team. To give them the opportunity to maybe the one to miss out for the allrounder. The confidence was good enough. Again having Mitch (Marsh) in the team, having that allrounder meant that a batter missed out. Little to do with the team, little to do with me not able to put my foot down and not being able to make the score to keep myself in the team. I definitely had the confidence knowing that, if I was able to come and score runs and put myself in the position to get back in there and hopefully I can stay in there.
What does Justin Langer want to see in your training during this period?
We’re going to be back training with our state squad on the 26th. For me and for a lot of us it’s coming back as fit as we can. I’ve got some guidelines with where I’ve got to be, some goals I need to tick off going into pre-season, which will then leave me with a really good baseline going into the pre-season. I’m excited, a bit nervous about the pre-season. I haven’t done one in a few years and looking back at the ones I have done, I’ll be able to come out of them very fit and ready to go. I’ve come a long way with my fitness and I’ve been able to create a good enough baseline now, hopefully throughout the pre-season I can excel that and continue to get better. That will leave me in good stead for the season. Being the leader within South Australia, to have the whole squad home – myself, Alex Carey, Kane Richardson – those sort of guys home, it is going to be really exciting pre-season and very important given the state of where we’re at. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
On financial woes and people being let go
Yeah, it is obviously disappointing throughout everywhere. There's been some hardship had across the board, within not just cricket but within every day of life I guess. I've had a lot of mates who are not here in South Australia hurt by that. So hopefully fingers crossed that we can have some things in place in the near future - that we can have those people back or to work around that because the support staff and the people who work inside are sometimes way more important than what we are and another reason why we can go out and play the game that we play and to be ready to play and perform. Hopefully, fingers crossed (that) we can get a coach soon. I know the processes are back up and running. We have some really exciting guys for that application. Looking at our squad and the excitement around our squad, the quality of people that we have within our squad and the guys who've played for Australia in that team. So it's an exciting squad to have. Looking forward to hopefully having the best coach we can.
On understanding his role after the return of Smith and Warner
In Test cricket, you have so much time. Anyone from 1-6, their role is to go out and score hundreds. My mindset on that side of things, I don't see it like one-day or T20 cricket where you probably have more of a role within a team. Your top three batters have to bat your 50 overs and get big hundreds or 4-6 come in and potentially have to move the game and take the game on. Batting at six, coming in if you need to bat long periods of time or if you're coming in to put icing on the cake. I don't see my role changing in the way I bat. At some moments in time, you've got to push the button a little bit and push the scoring rate. But for me, it's about going out and executing the same game plan over and over again, given some plans against different bowling and what not. The ultimate goal is to go out and try and score a hundred every time and the beauty of having Davey (Warner) or Steve (Smith) in the team is hopefully that I'm coming in with one of them on a big score or Marnus (Labuschagne) or the game is being set up. My aim every time I go out to bat is to continue that.
If he has shut himself from cricket or is watching old matches
Bits and pieces. Golf channels are getting a workout at my house at the moment. My housemate and I have been watching a fair bit of older golf tournaments, but there have been bits and pieces of cricket. I guess I haven't done a great deal. I haven't touched my cricket bag just yet. I'm getting ready for pre-season, I'm trying to stay as fit as I can be. Once the Adelaide Oval and the nets open up, getting in there and working on the things that I need to work on. Looking forward to that part of my game.
On the scheduled home Test series against India and the No.1 Test ranking
Yeah, definitely. Obviously, that (No.1 ranking) is great reward for the hard work we have put in over the last 12-18 months. That's one thing you've got to do I guess within the rankings or Test Championship is winning at home. We've been able to do that over the last period. Going to England, drawing that series and retaining the Ashes was great. You've got to hold your own when you're away and try your best. You want to go to win every series, but we know sometimes playing in foreign conditions can be quite difficult. So, I think we did a fantastic job in England and it'll be the same when we go to India. But making sure your own home and making sure that you can win games of cricket in your home country, that’s what puts you at the top of those rankings and that’s what we’ve been able to do, so that’s going to be very important when India comes - making sure that you look at what they do when we are in India. We started the series really well against them and then let it slip in Melbourne and Sydney. We're going to make sure that we do the things we weren’t able to do last summer and really own those home conditions.
On reports of some players considering an exit clause
I'm not so sure at the moment. I guess talking with Alistair (Nicholson) and Drewy (Brendan Drew) at the ACA and them working closely with Cricket Australia. I'm yet to have that conversation with them. I know that the communication has been really good throughout. I'm looking forward to talking to them over the next few days again. I guess it's been a day-by-day thing with this process and they continually work through that. Communication coming back to us has been really, really sound. That will continue, there are a lot more important people doing things and my confidence is in them. They're working closely on that and hopefully that can be resolved sooner rather than later. So my side of things, I'm just worrying about making sure that I'm ready to go when needed and making sure from a South Australian point-of-view here, I'm ready to go once pre-season starts. For them to hopefully resolve that or come to an agreement will be great and hopefully (happens) in the near future. But the communication side of things has been fantastic.
On Lloyd Pope's development and if he can be South Australia's number one spinner in first-class cricket
Yeah, I think so. I think he has had limited opportunities at the backend of the season. I know, probably results-wise or wickets-wise, it may not suggest that he's ready to go but the way he bowled and the continued progression that (Lloyd) Popey has shown is fantastic. His white-ball skills probably are more prominent at the moment with the Big Bash and he's played a bit more for South Australia in that format. And coming out of the U-19s, bowling a lot in one-day cricket. It's just about learning the four-day game. It's probably quite difficult in these conditions. The wickets probably don't spin as much or we don't have the SCGs over the years gone by or our old Adelaide Oval where there were big footholes. It's just adapting to that in four-day cricket and becoming really stock at his best ball.
I know talking to Popey that he's working really hard at that. Back in grade cricket, learning and bowling his stock ball over and over and I think the best thing for him at the moment is that he's bowling a lot of overs for Kensington in red-ball club cricket. With every opportunity that Popey gets, whether it be four-day cricket in second XIs or Shield cricket, he'll continue to learn and think about the process rather than the outcome. We don't expect a young leg-spinner to be setting the world on fire and taking heaps and heaps of wickets for us, but if he can continue to get better and better over time and continue that process on his best ball for four-day cricket. We know that his one-day cricket is very good and his Big Bash is the same. For Popey, it's about continuing to learn four-day cricket and what works best for him. Hopefully, I can lend a helping hand in that and help him through that.
Do you expect any significant player turnover for the Strikers this summer or you’re hoping to have a similar group of players together?
I think we’ll be hopefully able to keep the similar group together, I feel that’s the one thing Strikers have been very strong over the entirety of Big Bash is to be able to keep the structure of players together and that this same playing group that won a couple of years ago, so we probably missed their mark. I missed a chance in this year semi-final and that was probably most disappointing part, knowing that you have got the squad, knowing that you got the team to mix at the backend of the tournament and we had extremely enjoyable time over that six weeks and when I came back, the last four weeks, it was so much fun in the playing group, so I would be disappointed to see change. I don’t think the environment we’ll able to create here in Adelaide, how enjoyable it is playing at Adelaide Oval, the crowd is unbelievable, the buzz around here in Adelaide at that time is unbelievable, everyone talks about the Big Bash and Football, everyone loves their AFL year and for that little time of period it’s about cricket and it’s about Big Bash. Fingers crossed, we can keep that strong group together and that won’t change.
About his Test vice-captaincy, what exact responsibility have you taken on and how challenging has it been especially during that period when you did fall out of the team during the Ashes?
It’s fantastic, with the leaderships, I think having experienced it for a long period of time for South Australia, I'm not saying that I have tried to chase or not saying that I have looked towards something I wanted, again I see if I have got something to give or help. I just see my role as being connected to the boys and (Tim) Paine and looking after team as much as possible, whether that be sitting in meetings and listing. One or two things that pop here or there in a game when the balls flying around or high pressure situations, I can just tap on his shoulder and see if everything's alright. I don’t have to add too much, I don’t have to do a thing really, Painey has led the group fantastically well and from my side it’s just tapping on the shoulder and see if he’s alright. How it is going and asking if he needs any help, if he doesn’t, then great and if he does and hopefully I can lend the hand in some capacities.
Trying to help as much as I can. Trying to help individuals and create a really good environment. Hopefully if I'm needed, or if I'm in that role again in the future or they see me as a person that could help the group move forward and then have some success which is great. If not, I will try to continue to be a leader in the group in other ways. I've learnt over a long period of time that it's not the end of the world; it's not something I'm chasing.
Thoughts on one of the most hectic summers ahead and about the fitness required for that
It is. Fitness has been non-negotiable for a long period of time with JL (Justin Langer). Lot of people in the country know how strongly he feels about that and the baseline of where the players have been in the past and where we are now - there's a reason probably why we are performing the way we are and continuing to back Test matches up and having the players fit. Every summer seems to be get more and more bigger and more epic, that doesn't change. Players are so used to playing full summers, we will be able to continue that and fitness is one thing we can control. Fortunate to have this period off and probably have our pre-season where everyone would be training in their home base and with their home state. I remember pre-season a few years ago where I have come out of it, probably the fittest I have been. I'm looking forward to it.
Disappointed with Zampa leaving South Australia
It is. He is a close mate of mine, came out for a beer the other night and we talked through. I'm excited for him, I think he's bowling the best he's ever bowled at the moment in the one-day format and the way the ball is coming out. It is disappointing to see him not be at South Australia, given his limited opportunities over the years, I think this year he played 2-3 Shield games, we played (Lloyd) Popey in a couple of games. Moving forward it would've been exciting to have him but it's one thing which unfortunately happens in the game. I wish him all the best and if we give him more opportunity in four-day cricket, he can succeed. He is still quite young for a legspinner I guess and when he gets more games under his belt, hopefully he can play more four-day cricket.
Do you want to see pitches which help spinners more in Shield cricket?
It is a tough one with a couple of drop-in around the country. Adelaide with that patchiness of the grass has been able to spin but it is not your footholes and hasn't spun square. Looking back at the grounds we've got the most spin in is at Glenelg Oval where it is bound to deteriorate where (Mitchell) Swepson got a heap of wickets in a game at Cairns a few years ago. I played (Cameron) Boycey (Boyce) who got a seven-for in a day at Glenelg Oval. It is probably there are more grounds than stadiums at the moment that are producing more spin-friendly wickets. Banks County this year was a flat wicket but it is starting to take turn later in the day. It is probably something which needs to be looked at in the summer, I don't know how you do it or what you do. The days when you get a raging Adelaide Oval or the SCG and what-not are probably not much anymore and that's one thing we are not experiencing around the country with drop-in wickets. Perth is probably a bit different because their drop-in is fast and here at Adelaide and around the country it is quite similar.