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  • Jason Regan

Whirlwind Head century justifies return

Travis Head has narrowly avoided injury after blazing a counter-attacking Test century off 85 balls to reassert Australia's dominance and justify his own selection for the Ashes opener.

The South Australian narrowly pipped Usman Khawaja to play at the Gabba and validated the decision with an innings that swung momentum back the hosts' way.

Arriving when Steve Smith was dismissed at 3-189, Head ignored the loss of three quick wickets after tea to hammer 12 fours and two sixes in his third Test hundred to propel Australia from danger late on day two.

The action-packed innings was the third-fastest century in Ashes history. The milestone was quickly followed by a moment of madness when a searing Mark Wood beamer with the second new ball sent Head scrambling.

The wild delivery hit Head on the gloves and rebounded into the batter's chin under his helmet grill, Head bouncing to his feet and assuring Wood he had escaped harm. 

Earlier there was no sign of what was to come when Head started circumspectly, only exploding with a bruising pull shot off Ben Stokes.

It was the first of three boundaries in the allrounder's over in what proved a crucial moment just as England had clawed their way back into the contest.

Head then took on the spin of Joe Root to accelerate past 50 and dominate a 70-run partnership with captain Pat Cummins (12).

Australia had sprinted past England's first innings of 147 thanks to Marnus Labuschagne and David Warner's 156-run stand.

But the loss of Warner (94) and Cameron Green (0) in successive balls livened up the contest, leaving Head to take the reins and push Australia beyond 300.


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