Racking up sizeable runs in Pakistan could define the careers of Australia’s batters, according to Travis Head on the cusp of the three-Test tour.
Usman Khawaja (85), Head (59.5) and Marnus Labuschagne (41.87) all finished with a healthy series batting average in the 4-0 drubbing of England, but conditions of a dramatically different kind await them ahead of Australia’s first tour of Pakistan since 1998.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has announced local umpires will officiate the tour, which is also set to include three one-dayers and a T20, and interim Australia head coach Andrew McDonald said he had no concerns.
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Head is among the many Australia batters with a home Test record that’s far superior than their away numbers.
The left-hander averages 49.87 at home but only 27.28 away, while he’s made all four of his Test hundreds on Australian soil.
Head scored the first of his two centuries in the recently concluded Ashes from just 85 balls, before making another swift ton on a green-top in Hobart as only one teammate managed to reach 50 in the same innings.
The Australia vice-captain is determined to thrive with the bat in Pakistan.
“It’s what defines you as a player, your away series,” Head said.
“You look at (Steve Smith’s) record in India … He goes to a different level.
“On the flipside, you can’t chase that. You can’t change yourself, you can’t try to be someone that you’re not.
“But definitely going away, obviously (given) how tough I found it in an Ashes away (with) different environments, crowds, conditions … It is definitely challenging, and you definitely get tested.
“I think that’s where you can take your game to a different level.”
Australia’s batting line-up isn’t set despite the thumping of England.
Marcus Harris was axed for the final Test of the Ashes to make way for Khawaja at the top of the order.
Australia’s selectors have picked Harris for the Pakistan tour despite their lack of faith, and McDonald revealed there was “potential” for the Victorian to bat in the middle order.
There’s also the genuine possibility that Australia play two spinners because the conditions are conducive to the turning ball, which could result in Mitchell Marsh taking Head’s place in the middle order to bolster the pace-bowling stocks.
“When you go away, you’ve got to be prepared to be brave in not only the way you play but in the way you select the team, as well,” Head said.
“Everyone in that squad has to understand they are going on a plane to hopefully have an impact on the series.
“You’ve got to pick the best teams for what you think is going to win a Test match or win a series.
“It’s going to take the whole squad to be able to do that.”
Rawalpindi, Karachi and Lahore will host the Tests, with the first match beginning on March 4.
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