Ashes: Travis Head leads Australia fightback with brilliant century


ravis Head’s outstanding century led an attacking Australia fightback from the wreckage of 12 for three as a thrown-together England side wilted in the final Test of the Ashes in Hobart.

England had made the dream start to the Test, then Stuart Broad picked up the vital wicket of Marnus Labuschagne on the stroke of the first break. But Head and Cameron Green put Australia in total control, with the only wicket to fall being the centurion the delivery after reaching the landmark from 112 balls.

England had Australia 12 for three in this day-night Test, before Labuschagne and Head took the attack to the tourists, sharing 71 in just 74 balls before the first break.

However, Broad picked up Labuschagne in hilarious fashion. The world’s No1 Test batter stepped across his stumps in a bid to turn Broad through midwicket, but was bowled and found himself on his knees.

England had made five changes, with wicketkeeper Sam Billings making his Test debut in place of the injured Jos Buttler, while Jonny Bairstow also failed to prove his fitness after a bang to the thumb during his century in Sydney. That led to a reprieve for Ollie Pope, along with his Surrey captain Rory Burns, who replaced Haseeb Hameed.

In the bowling attack, Ollie Robinson and Chris Woakes came in for Jack Leach and James Anderson, who was too sore to play after three straight Tests at the age of 39.

After Joe Root won the toss and opted to bowl, Anderson might have found conditions – a green pitch and slate grey skies – to his liking, but his only involvement was presenting Billings with his Test cap.

It was Robinson who did most of the early damage, picking up Steve Smith and David Warner for ducks, both caught well at second slip by Zak Crawley. The same fielder, however, dropped Labuschagne, diving to his right before he had scored.

In a stunning opening spell, Broad also took the wicket of Usman Khawaja as Australia found themselves in deep trouble at 12 for three.

Labuschagne and Head played without fear, though, taking on England’s change bowlers Chris Woakes and Mark Wood, whose first three overs went for 33. By the time Broad dismissed Labuschagne, England desperately needed a wicket.

In his first over after lunch, Robinson pulled up sore, with a lower back issue, and did not bowl again. Head, supported by Green, took full advantage of the pressure on England’s attack. Woakes and Wood struggled, especially to Head, who was always looking to score and looked untroubled until his dismissal, which came against the run of play.


By Malvi