Former Australia captain Steve Waugh was infuriated on the think tank’s decision to drop Travis Head for the first Test against India in Nagpur on Thursday.
The 57-year-old took to his Instagram to write, “Hard to believe we can drop the number 4 ranked test batsman in the world and probably our best batsman in the last 12 months plus he bowls better than average off spin – let’s wait and see-maybe the Aussie selectors are geniuses!”.
Head scored 525 runs at an average of 87.50 in the 2022/23 Australian Test Summer against West Indies and South Africa over five matches at a strike rate of over 95.
The call may have been owing to the fact that Head’s presence would’ve meant Australia had five left-handed batters in their playing XI, a recipe of disaster in the making, courtesy of one Ravichandran Ashwin, who has had an obvious advantage against the like.
Australia chief selector George Bailey had earlier hinted that Head could take on a “different role” in the subcontinent come the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. “I think you have to play different conditions, at different times. I think he (Head) has spoken to the fact he hasn’t been exposed to those conditions a great deal. And you can talk about it and try and replicate it but until you’ve actually been there and played on those types of wickets, that’s the only way, or certainly the fastest way of getting better in those conditions,” Bailey had told the reporters.
In addition to Waugh, former Australia opener Mathew Hayden also expressed he was taken aback by the call on commentary during the game. “I’m just speechless,” Hayden said on-air.
Matt Renshaw, who was picked in the XI ahead Head, was dismissed for a golden duck as India dominated day one of the first Test. Captain Rohit Sharma (56 not out) scored an authoritative half-century after Ravindra Jadeja picked up a five-for with the hosts finishing 77 for 1 at stumps, only 100 runs behind the visitors.
Jadeja, playing his first international match after recovering from a knee injury, grabbed five wickets as India bowled out Australia for 177 in their first innings just after tea. “I was bowling 10-12 hours every day and that helped me a lot. I was working on my rhythm because I knew that I have to play a Test match and I have to bowl long spells.” he said after the day’s play.
Indian openers Rohit, who hit nine fours and a six in his 69-ball unbeaten knock, and KL Rahul (20) then put up a 76-run opening stand. However, Rahul became spinner Todd Murphy’s (1/13) first international wicket as he was sent packing in the penultimate over of the day.