Joe Burns and Travis Head scored their country’s first Test centuries of the Australian summer, making 172 not out and 161 respectively, as they shared a magnificent 308-run partnership for the fourth wicket on day one of the second and final Test between Australia and Sri Lanka.
The pair were excellent as they forced their side into a dominant position, taking the hosts from a precarious 28-3 in the ninth over to 336-3, before Head departed in the evening session. Australia finished on 384-4 at stumps.
It marked an excellent first day for Tim Paine’s men, who are looking to win their first Test series in over 12 months. Thanks to Burns and Head, they look well placed to do so.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) February 1, 2019
For Head, his maiden Test hundred proved an emotional affair, and he looked up to the sky upon reaching the landmark, dedicating his hundred to former South Australia teammate Phil Hughes, who passed away in 2014.
“Yeah [I dedicated it to] a few, Hughesy as well, a little bit emotional to be honest,” a tearful Head told SEN Radio after play.
“It was a little bit about trying to get the momentum back, it was a little like last week where we lost quick wickets and were a little bit under the pump, it was trying to get that momentum back. I just went back from last week – I thought I started my innings really well, left the ball really well, just tried to get that momentum back and get it to swing back our way. I felt like Burnsy and I were able to do that again.”
Opener Burns was drafted in at the beginning of the series and the 29-year-old responded with a well-timed innings, as Australia’s next Test assignment will be an Ashes tour to England.
“Look, it can be tough,” Burns told reporters of his previous spells in and out of the team, “but that’s not just cricket, that’s life sometimes, you can’t plan too far ahead, take the good with the bad. It makes days like today – when you get to kiss the badge on your helmet – bloody good, that’s for sure. It makes you really appreciate the good days because you never know when’s your last Test match or when you’re going to be out of the team.
“You can’t take anything for granted, just have a responsibility to play as hard as you can and as best as you can, and what will be will be. It’s just one of those times where you appreciate a good day. You’ve got to do that in this game because you have a hell of a lot of bad days as well, so appreciate the fact it’s a good day and we’re just eager to come back tomorrow and do it all again hopefully and make tomorrow an even better day.”
Australia’s difficult start saw them lose Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne in quick succession to a new-look Sri Lankan seam attack, one with just five Test caps between them, but Burns expected the visitors to pose an early threat.
“Coming into the day’s play, we knew the first hour was going to be pretty tough,” Burns said. “Bit of grass on the wicket, bit of overheads, so despite losing the three wickets we knew we had to absorb that pressure they posed to us and we were also aware they were an inexperienced bowling attack that were going to present scoring opportunities if we could get through those tough periods. Last time I played Sri Lanka we got thumped, so I’ve got a hell of a lot of motivation to get out there and get a series win.”