Cricket contract shock: Axe hovers over former leader
Former Australian vice-captain Travis Head could be a surprise omission when Australia's new cricket contract list is announced today.
Head took the Sheffield Shield by storm with a competition-leading 893 runs at 68 at the excellent strike rate of 60 but that may not be enough to land him a new deal.
Australia have the option to award 20 contracts but have chosen just 17 with the onus on fringe players to earn their deals which they can do by being rewarded by the automatic promotion system by playing several international matches.
The reduced number has put the squeeze on fringe players and Head was dropped for the last two Tests of the series against India in the last domestic summer.
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As is the case with fellow batsmen Will Pucovski and Matt Wade the likely contract snub would not mean Head is out of contention for the first Ashes Test against England at the Gabba next summer.
His Shield form will give him a strong chance of taking the No 5 spot and he will have several more Shield games to press his case before the side is chosen.
But there is no doubt the likely contract demotion would be a message Australia wants more from him in the Test arena.
Australia is fond of its former vice-captain but frets over the fact he is in an underperforming team in South Australia which, for all his Shield runs, is not improving or hardening him as a Test player.
Australia does not want to see Head just float along.
While his Test average of 39 is solid it masks the fact that in five of his seven Test series he has averaged less than 34.
The possible contract snub would be interpreted as a sign Australia does not rate him but the opposite is true.
To his credit, Head has made technical refinements to his game which saw him dominate the Sheffield Shield in spectacular fashion.
If he can do that for his country what he has done for his state he will have contract by around Christmas.
Originally published as Cricket contract shock: Axe hovers over former leader