Steve Smith remains peerless but Travis Head has emerged as Australia’s other form batsman on their Ashes tour, producing an unbeaten ton in the former skipper’s absence against Worcestershire.
Smith, David Warner, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle were rested from the three-day match that started on Wednesday, just two days after Australia secured a 251-run win over England in the first Test.
Head, having played an unheralded role in Australia’s triumph at Edgbaston, finished 109 not out against the team he played for in 2018.
The vice-captain enjoyed a warm reception from fans while helping himself to 14 boundaries, ensuing he will enter the second Test full of confidence.
“He batted beautifully today,” Usman Khawaja said.
“He’s been batting well. Batting well in the (Australia) A stuff from all reports, he batted beautifully in the last Test match.
“Scoring runs is a habit, you have to keep doing it. He’s in a really good place now, hopefully he can keep doing it for the rest of the tour.”
Head put away plenty of loose deliveries but was sensible with his aggression, striking the perfect balance.
The left-hander scored 35 and 51 on Ashes debut in Birmingham. Head’s second-innings partnership with Smith, worth 130 runs, was Australia’s biggest stand of the first Test.
Many English pundits are still coming to terms with Smith’s match-winning knocks of 144 and 142 in the Ashes opener but Khawaja has come to expect as much from his long-time teammate.
“I’ve seen him do it so often. It’s just like another day at the office for him, he’s scored 25 Test hundreds,” Khawaja said.
“I’ve seen him do that for a long time. His decision making is the best in the world in Test cricket … he backs up hundreds after hundreds and when he gets on a roll he keeps going.
“To come back the way he did was exceptional.”
Khawaja added the victory would rank among the top five wins of his career.
Khawaja scored 57 in Worcester, describing it as tough pitch to bat on because of the amount of seam movement.
Tim Paine is playing the low-key fixture but Matthew Wade took the wicketkeeping gloves for the final hour of play on Wednesday, ensuring he will be sharp if needed behind the stumps at any point in the Ashes.