South Australian pair Travis Head and Alex Carey have also etched their names into the storied pages of Ashes folklore, with the West End Redbacks captain and vice-captain each achieving feats never seen in the Test arena.
For Head, it was a stunning century of just 85-balls to become the first player to score triple figures in a session at the Gabba, a venue that has hosted more than 60 Test matches. Head’s was the 118th century at the ground, and it stands alone for the speed in which it was accrued and the energy is produced at a critical juncture.
The thrilling left-hander’s third Test century came at a crucial time, just as the home side were experiencing their first genuine concern of the contest amongst lengthening shadows on day two. When Cameron Green and David Warner were dismissed on consecutive deliveries, the Australian’s had fallen from 1/166 to 5/195 and the fixture was well and truly alive.
But as Alex Carey joined his long-time South Australian teammate in the middle, he may just have seen a glint in Head’s eye that suggested what was to come: an individual performance that would stun England and strike a deciding blow in the opening scuffle of the battle for the coveted Ashes urn. While the innings wowed the cricketing world with its power and elegance, it is something that Carey has become accustomed to watching from the non-strikers end in partnership with Head through the years.
Not just wrestling, but demanding control of the game back in Australia’s favour, Head crashed 14 fours and four sixes on his way to a match-winning, and Player of the Match earning, 152 from 148 deliveries.
Now with 20 Test matches in his kitbag, Head has scored over 1300 runs at an average of 43.50 and looks certain to have set the concrete around his name within the Australian middle-order.
Carey became the 461st Australian male to receive a baggy green on day one of the Test, and his sure work behind the stumps saw another record broken. With his eight catches, Carey becomes the holder of the most catches taken by any player on debut in the history of Test match cricket.
The always smiling wicketkeeper was a picture of positivity throughout the clash, clearly enjoying every moment of the Queensland sunshine beneath the slight shade cast by his crisp new cap. Carey was faultless throughout both England innings, gloving everything that came his way without fuss, looking every bit the Test cricketer that he now is.
A measure of his even temperament and team-first attitude, Carey didn’t hesitate when given the role of opening batsman in the pursuit of just 20 runs to win the game. With Warner recovering from a vicious blow to the body in the first innings, Carey was all too happy to lash ton the pads and do a job for his country. While it didn’t work out exactly as he would have envisioned, the act itself shows the character of South Australia’s vice-captain.
Adelaide Oval now awaits the Ashes roadshow, with the second Test, an historic day/night encounter, set to begin on Thursday afternoon. Australia and England have produced a long list of thrilling contests at the iconic venue, and with Australia already one-nil up in the series, there is little doubt that fans are in for another true cricketing treat.
The occasion will be all the sweeter for South Australian fans, with both Head and Carey set to light up the Adelaide night sky while proudly wearing the nation’s coat of arms.
The second Vodafone Ashes test begins at Adelaide Oval on Thursday 16 December, with the first ball delivered at 2.30pm local time.
12 December 2021