Travis Head says works starts now ahead of Test series.
Travis Head says works starts now ahead of Test series. John McCutcheon

‘A special few days’: Why Maxi’s pain is Head’s gain

GLENN Maxwell's pain is Travis Head's gain but Australia's next Test left-hander has paid his way for a ticket to the Middle East against Pakistan.

Unheralded Queenslander Marnus Labuschagne and South Australian skipper Head, both 24, will contest a middle-order, baggy green debut in next month's series opener in Dubai with Maxwell overlooked.

"It is something you grow up dreaming about, receiving a cap and the elite group you join. It has been a special few days after finding out in India," Head told The Advertiser.

Travis Head poses for a portrait before the Australia A tour of India. He has been named in his first Test squad to take on Pakistan in the UAE. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Travis Head poses for a portrait before the Australia A tour of India. He has been named in his first Test squad to take on Pakistan in the UAE. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

"Once you are in the squad you want to play but have to make sure you are working as hard as you can. I can't wait. It will be amazing to have my family over after the sacrifices they have made for me."

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting has labelled Maxwell's snub "bizarre" but selection boss Trevor Hohns cites the miffed Victorian's Test batting average of 27 as instructive. Head has rolled with the punches since making his Sheffield Shield debut at 18 and welcomes selection debate.

"I take it on, I have always said Maxi is an unbelievable player, had an unbelievable period in Shield," said Head who averages 37 over 39 one-day games for Australia.

"There are always guys pushing and that is the beauty of Australian cricket. There's always unlucky guys. I have been in the same position where you have missed out and been in really good form. You just need to put more runs on the board.

"I have spoken to him and think he is ready to go for a big JLT Cup. I would love to see Glenn get runs. It's the same as the guys like Chadd Sayers who missed out."

Travis Head celebrates a Sheffield Shield century for the Redbacks against Tasmania in March. Picture: AAP Image/Julian Smith
Travis Head celebrates a Sheffield Shield century for the Redbacks against Tasmania in March. Picture: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Head is emboldened by a technique tightened last season averaging 46 for South Australia then finetuned with Worcestershire this northern summer. Head has a first-class average of 41 over three and half seasons since appointed SA's youngest captain aged 21 in 2015.

"I have had my best three seasons in Shield cricket, since I took over the captaincy, I wanted to lead from the front," said Head, five years younger than Maxwell but sharing seven first-class tons apiece.

Head - with a revamped forward defence - is ready for Pakistan's reverse swing kings led by Mohammad Amir and spin that will be unleashed in the UAE where Australia was thrashed 2-0 in 2014.

"I had a big focus getting a really good stride at the ball, not falling away, playing as late as possible and let the ball come to me rather than force the issue with bowlers," Head said.

Head, who has double the first-class appearances on 70 than Labuschagne, secured Test squad selection with a one-day ton (115) and four-day scores of 87, 68 and 48 for Australia A in India over the past three weeks.

"I feel like I am in good form. If I can take the consistency from India to Dubai I can get big runs and hopefully do a job for a period of time for Australia," Head said.

Uncapped Head, paceman Brendan Doggett, Labuschagne and allrounder Michael Neser together with Usman Khawaja, Matt Renshaw, Mitch Marsh, Ashton Agar and Jon Holland will be acclimatised to Asian conditions after a month with Australia A in India.

Typecasting Justin Langer's touring unit as weak - stripped of Steve Smith, David Warner, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins while sporting five uncapped players - doesn't faze Head.

"It is a lot different line-up but we have nine guys from the India tour with outstanding performances and guys like Aaron Finch with loads of international one-day hundreds," said Head.

"I think we stack up well.

"If we can create a really good atmosphere hopefully we can make it a pretty special tour."

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