Men’s Test hitting champion for 2023 is being awarded by ESPNcricinfo: Get to the edge

Australia’s aggressive No. 5 helped them defeat India and earn a much-needed major victory.

Travis Head

The Oval, World Test Championship final, 163 vs. India

Prior to June 2023, Australia’s best team had yet to win the ODI World Cup and had dropped their previous four Test series, two of which were at home, against India. What sort of all-time team was this, one that was unable to defeat India or secure a World Cup victory?

Even though Australia’s two home series losses to India will always sting, they possessed a great assault that included three distinct large fast bowlers and one of the best offspinners in history. With the exception of India, they have not lost at home in a very long time. They were the only team to take on India in that country, even bringing a series to a rubber match—the first in eleven years. They still had an issue with India.

When India faced them in the World Test Championship final and had them at 76 for 3, the issue only seemed to be getting worse. Head entered the field, a batsman who India had successfully driven out of the Australian squad during their previous two trips there. Due to a horses-for-courses policy, Head had been left off of the India tour earlier in the year.

India made Head, in a sense, remake himself. Head is a regretless batter in his most recent incarnation. He hit a square four with the fifth ball he faced, which was neither too short nor too wide. Head attacked without retreating during his time at the wicket. Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur were not quite as accurate or frightening as Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj, so the plan was to get on top of them. Head took its toll.

Although there were some fortunate moments in what was otherwise a conventional counterattacking innings, Steven Smith’s 31st Test century was rendered irrelevant by the incredible strokeplay. Of the 285 runs that Head scored while at the wicket, 94 came from square cover on the off side. Australia and Head had at last managed to defeat India. Later in the year, they would repeat the same in another final. This Australia would be fully crowned among the great Australias.

Crucial instance
Begin how you intend to continue. Not many anticipated that Head would come out blazing at 76 for 3 on a cloudy first morning of a WTC final. In his first 16 balls, he hit six fours, moving him up to 27. Not only did he assault the off side, though. He was equally delighted to give them a hard slap on the side of the leg when India fled.

The figures

ESPNcricinfo reports that during his century against India, Head’s control percentage was 69, while Smith’s was 89.5%. Ball-by-ball records from ESPNcricinfo show that Head’s control % is the lowest for a Test century since 2014. Brendon McCullum’s 69.6%, achieved in his 79-ball 145 against Australia in 2016, was the previous lowest.

1 The number of batters in the 2021–2023 World Trade Center cycle that have hit at least 1000 runs at 50 mph on average and at least 70 strikeouts every 70 at bat: Head.

What they expressed

“For the past two years, that has been my method. I stated, “I wanted to be proactive and score off balls that were presented to me, and when they bowled in nice areas, to be good enough to stay out there for extended periods of time.”
– Travis Head

“Travis has performed admirably the entire campaign. He consistently applies pressure to the bowlers.”
– Australia’s captain Pat Cummins

The nearest competitor

Dean Elgar

185 against India, Centurion’s first Test
During his last Test match, Elgar led by example as de facto captain due to Temba Bavuma’s injury and gave a tutorial on how to bat in seaming conditions. After KL Rahul’s century lifted India from 107 for 5 to 245 runs, almost everyone believed they had scored too many runs. But Elgar thought otherwise. He did not play at balls that were outside his line of sight, as he usually did, but he cover-droved with style in this innings, scoring 185 to give South Africa a commanding lead and guarantee that they would not lose a home series against India under his leadership.

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