World Test Championship

Ponting compares Travis Head to all-time great

World Test Championship

By Jonathan Healy at The Oval

Hit For Six!

Ricky Ponting is comfortable comparing Travis Head as the modern-day Adam Gilchrist in Australia’s XI after the left-hander swung the momentum of the ICC World Test Championship Final towards his side with a superb century on the opening day in London.

Video World Test Championship 07 Jun 23
Day 1 Highlights: Head, Smith too good for India on opening day | WTC23 Final
Highlights: Travis Head and Steven Smith helped Australia fight back after early wickets to post a daunting 327/3 against India on day one of the ICC World Test Championship 2023 Final.

Head produced his first Test century in England and the sixth of his career with a brilliant unbeaten 146* from just 156 deliveries on an action-packed day that was dominated by Australia at The Oval.

The aggressive No.5 strode to the crease with his team in a spot of bother at 76/3, but produced a knock that reminded Ponting of his former teammate Gilchrist.

Video World Test Championship 07 Jun 23
Ricky Ponting lavishes praise on WTC23 Final centurion Travis Head | Byjus

Gilchrist had a strike-rate of 81.95 during his illustrious Test career and Head is forging a similar path having scored at a similar clip during Australia's World Test Championship campaign.

"He probably is (similar to Gilchrist)," Ponting told the ICC.

"In fact he is probably scoring quicker now than Gilly probably ever did. 

"His strike-rate through this (World Test Championship) qualification period is 81, which is higher than anyone else in the world to have scored more than 500 runs.

"His confidence is growing by the game, his strike-rate keeps going up, he hits boundaries early on in his innings which puts pressure back on the bowlers which is what you want from your middle order players, and his last two years have been quite remarkable."

Video World Test Championship 07 Jun 23
Century! Travis Head underlines brilliant knock with milestone | WTC23 Final

Gilchrist was known for attacking from the moment he got to the crease and Head showed similar tendencies as he flayed the India attack to all parts of the iconic south London venue on Wednesday.

Head was savage on anything over-pitched early in his innings, dealing mainly in boundaries to quickly swing the momentum Australia's way after India's quicks made a decent start to the contest.

Adam Gilchrist celebrates an Ashes century against England in 2006 // Getty Images
Adam Gilchrist celebrates an Ashes century against England in 2006 // Getty Images

Ponting believes India's pacers erred with their length early against Head and would have been better advised to remain patient and try and restrict him from scoring so freely.

"I think when he first comes in you need to execute perfectly to him," Ponting noted.

"It is no good trying to over attack him because if you bowl any bad ball, he is going to put it away. 

"They will learn by the way they bowled to him in this first innings, and they will definitely adjust in this second innings, but sometimes it is too late."

Video World Test Championship 07 Jun 23
Head, Smith give Australia the edge in second session | WTC23 Final
Australia went into Tea on Day 1 at a healthy 170/3 after Travis Head and Steve Smith resisted the Indian bowlers.

And Ponting thinks India may rue the fact they left No.1 ranked Test bowler Ravichandran Ashwin out of their final XI given his ability to bowl well against left-handers.

"As this game goes on, I have got no doubt that there is going to be turn," Ponting said.

"Australia have got a lot of left-handers in their batting line-up to which Ashwin would have been perfectly suited for. 

"So far for me, it looks like it was a mistake from them by playing the four seamers, but we will see how the game pans out."


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