South Australian batter Travis Head has streaked to a Sheffield Shield half-century that could secure him a spot in Australia’s first Ashes XI, and he can thank Queensland captain Usman Khawaja for the opportunity.
With the first Test scheduled to start at the Gabba on December 8, the game at Karen Rolton Oval was the last in-game chance for Khawaja and Head to prove they deserved the sole spot up for grabs in Australia’s middle order.
Khawaja only managed four and Head eight in their respective first innings on a difficult pitch, but after South Australia was dismissed for just 102 early on day three, Khawaja enforced the follow-on.
That gave Queensland the best chance of getting a win but also gifted Head another shot to impress selectors and he snapped it up.
The Redbacks skipper made his way past 50 for the third time this Shield season as his teammates struggled around him.
One of his batting partners, opener Jake Weatherald, was at the centre of a strange confrontation with Khawaja earlier in the day.
Between the eighth and ninth overs, Queensland’s Matt Renshaw placed a fielder’s helmet in front of the stumps at the striker’s end and Weatherald, after walking back to take his guard, wound up and just about kicked the badge off the helmet out towards gully.
That earned him a stern rebuke from Khawaja, although the Queensland captain left the conversation with a smile, and the umpires had a word as well.
Later on Thursday, the Redbacks passed 300 total runs across their two innings, meaning Queensland will bat again, but with a big lead unlikely for South Australia whether Khawaja gets another shot remains to be seen.