Head joins storied list of part-timers ripping through

Seed! Head gets huge turn for his first Test wicket

When Pat Cummins threw Travis Head the ball before lunch on day three in Galle, before the skipper had sent down a delivery himself, the part-time off-spinner had yet to take a Test scalp.

Opportunities had been relatively scarce in his 26 Tests to date, and his off-breaks rarely threatened on more batter-friendly surfaces.

But within less than 30 minutes from being given the chance, Head all of a sudden had four wickets; including two barely believable off-breaks that ripped back between the bat and pad of Dinesh Chandimal and Jeffrey Vandersay respectively.

With two bowled and two lbws from just 17 deliveries, Head will likely never top his unexpected return against Sri Lanka.

The sharp burst with the ball sees him join a small, albeit memorable group of Australian men’s Test cricketers who, when given the opportunity with the ball, took it with both hands.

Michael Clarke 6-9 in India, 2004

Few bowling cameos from a part-timer come to mind quicker than Clarke’s ridiculous spell against India in Mumbai.

The similarities with Head’s effort are apparent, as Clarke too had yet to claim a Test scalp before this incredible burst, which included the prized scalp of Rahul Dravid to get him underway.

Unlike Head’s effort on Friday, however, Australia would go on to lose the Test match by just 13 runs, bowled out for 93 following the memorable spell.

Michael Clarke holds the ball aloft during his unbelievable spell in Mumbai // Getty
Michael Clarke holds the ball aloft during his unbelievable spell in Mumbai // Getty

Allan Border 7-46 and 4-50 in West Indies, 1989

The long-serving Australian captain averaged just one wicket every four Tests across his celebrated 156-Test career, but on this occasion in Sydney he well and truly filled his boots.

Border had taken just 16 wickets in his 100 Tests to date, but dismissed batters No.3 to No.9 to completely turn the tables on the first innings after the Windies had ticked along to 1-144.

Four more wickets in the second innings (plus 75 and 16no with the bat) propelled Australia to a seven-wicket win and for Border, his one and only 10-wicket match in his career.

From the Vault: AB faces down fearsome Windies

Michael Bevan 4-31 and 6-82 in West Indies, 1997

A handy left-arm wrist spinner, Bevan had made valuable contributions earlier in the five-Test series against the West Indies in the 1996-97 summer, with three and two wickets respectively in the second innings at Brisbane and Sydney.

Not picked for Boxing Day, the Australian selectors opted to return Bevan to the XI in Adelaide as a No.7 batter and second spinner behind the late great Shane Warne.

And while Warne bowled well to finish with six wickets, it was his less heralded counterpart who dominated with the ball, taking 10 for the match.

To top it off, Bevan struck 85no in Australia’s first innings to put an exclamation mark on his player-of-the-match performance.

Michael Bevan returned to the Aussie side with a bang // Getty
Michael Bevan returned to the Aussie side with a bang // Getty

Darren Lehmann 3-50 and 3-52 in Sri Lanka, 2004

As far as individual efforts from Australians on the sub-continent go, Lehmann’s six-wicket effort plus a dominant 153 in the first innings in Colombo is almost unrivaled.

These were no junk-time scalps, either; Lehmann’s left-arm orthodox dismissed Sanath Jayasuriya in both innings, plus the similarly prized scalps of Kumar Sangakkara, Thilan Samaraweera and Mahela Jayawardene.

The performance saw Australia seal a 3-0 victory in a series where Warne was named player-of-the-series with 26 wickets.

Darren Lehmann celebrates during his Test best with the ball // Getty
Darren Lehmann celebrates during his Test best with the ball // Getty

Marcus North 6-55 in Pakistan, 2010

Playing at the neutral venue of Lord’s, Pakistan were undone by allrounder Shane Watson (5-40) in their first innings and were bowled out for just 148.

But in the second innings an even more unexpected Australian found their way to the ground’s famous honors board, as Marcus North snared 6-55, doubling his Test wicket tally in one innings.

With Steve Smith also chipping in with three wickets, frontliners Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger would take just six scalps between them in an unusual encounter at the home of cricket.

A six-wicket haul at Lord's for Marcus North // Getty
A six-wicket haul at Lord’s for Marcus North // Getty

Simon Katich 6-65 in Zimbabwe, 2003

A week on from Matthew Hayden’s then world record score of 380 against Zimbabwe in Perth, part-time wrist-spinner Katich wreaked further havoc on the tourists.

Snaring four of Zimbabwe’s top six in their second innings, the then middle-order batter would ensure Australia had no trouble in sealing a 2-0 series win.

The cameo constituted more than a quarter of Katich’s 21 wickets that he compiled over a 56-Test career.

From the Vault: Katich bags six, Ponting takes a blinder

Michael Clarke 3-5 vs, India, 2008

After a fiery and highly controversial SCG Test that saw tensions almost reach boiling point between Australia and India, Clarke threw the ball in the dying minutes with the tourists seven wickets down.

In fading light, the left-armer dismissed Harbhajan Singh, RP Singh and Ishant Sharma in an over to spark wild celebrations.

The win meant Ricky Ponting’s side sealed a 16th-straight Test victory, emulating Steve Waugh’s team of 1999 to 2001.

Clarke’s epic over wins SCG thriller over India

Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Test squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Praveen Jayawickrama, Lasith Embuldeniya, Jeffrey Vandersay. Standby players: Dunith Wellalage, Lakshitha Rasanjana.

Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson , David Warner. Standby players: Jon Holland, Matthew Kuhnemann, Todd Murphy

June 29 – July 3: Australia won by 10 wickets

July 8-12: Second Test, Galle, 2.30pm AEST

Sri Lanka v Australia Test matches will be screened live on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports

Leave a Comment