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A-grade leadership a chance for Paine’s former deputy to turn selectors’ heads

“Obviously, it’s great to be able to lead them [Australia A]. It’s a new opportunity for me to develop my leadership,” Head said on Saturday.

“I am really looking forward to playing with different guys and (seeing) how different guys operate and working with them to, hopefully, have a great three days.”

Travis Head will captain Australia A in a tour match against India A.

Travis Head will captain Australia A in a tour match against India A.Credit:AP

Head said selection chairman Trevor Hohns had said his removal from the deputy role had not been a reflection on anything he had done “wrong”, for he had received positive feedback.

“I was, obviously, very privileged to get that opportunity in the first place, having not played a great deal of Test cricket. To be vice-captain of an Ashes series [in 2019] was a massive opportunity for me and something that I learnt a lot from, being in those meetings and being a part of that,” he said.

“I think I offered a little bit to that, obviously captaining South Australia for a fair chunk of my career now.”

The tourists are set to field a strong attack, potentially including Test paceman Umesh Yadav and spinner Ravi Ashwin, ensuring this will be a challenging match for those Australians already in the Test squad ahead of the December 17 opener in Adelaide and those looking to strengthen their claims.

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Head also has a point to prove. He enjoyed a strong start to the Sheffield Shield season, lashing 455 runs – behind only emerging star Will Pucovski and Shaun Marsh – at 65, including centuries against Victoria and Tasmania, but is keen to leave an imprint on the tourists. He averaged a modest 33.85 in four Tests against them in 2018-19, with half centuries in Adelaide and Perth, but was unable to have the major impact he craved.

The left-hander has since logged his two Test tons, against Sri Lanka and New Zealand, and has a healthy overall Test average of 41.96 in 17 appearances. The Australians are looking to him to be the middle-order plank in the four Tests this summer.

“I think my game has developed a long way since then [2018-19]. I have had more of a taste of Test cricket, I have been able to have a couple of performances since that series,” Head said.

“You take confidence from everything you have done, you take experiences from every game you have played, and every format, every team that you have come up against.

“It’s nice to have some memories and some stuff you remember from that series – they [India] have an unbelievable bowling attack and have been well supported throughout the whole attack. So, I am looking forward to that test again.”

Australia A squad: Jackson Bird, Joe Burns, Harry Conway, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head (c), Nic Maddinson, Michael Neser, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Mark Steketee, Will Sutherland.
India Test squad: Virat Kohli (c) (first Test only), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj

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