Now draped around his neck, the prestigious Compton/Miller Medal is a permanent reminder of dual swashbuckling centuries the exhilarating left-hander recorded to bookend the series. Named for English batter Denis Compton and Australian allrounder Keith Miller, the award was inaugurated in 2005 and bears the names of such champions as Ricky Ponting, Mitchell Johnson, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff and now Adelaide-born Travis Head.
Despite missing the fourth Test, Head ends the series as the most prolific run-scorer with 357 at an average of 59.50 and a remarkable strike-rate of 86. Compiling more runs than Marnus Labuschagne, the recently appointed best batter in the world and Joe Root, who spent 2021 tallying the third most runs ever in a calendar year, Head’s successful Ashes campaign looks set to fast-track the dominant batter’s rise through international cricket.
Heading into the Hobart Test, the 23rd of his career, Head sat 12th in the ICC Test batting rankings and his counter-attacking century on a difficult pitch will have New Zealand’s Tom Latham and South Africa’s Dean Elgar looking nervously over their shoulders as Head looks to burst into the top ten.
The series began for Head with a punishing century scored from just 85 balls, an innings as timely as it was destructive. Coming to the wicket following a mini-collapse of 4/39, Head crunched 14 fours and four sixes throughout the second night and third morning of the opening Ashes Test, finishing with 152 from just 148 deliveries.
In the process, Head became the first player to score 100 runs in a single session at the Gabba, a venue with more than 60 Test matches in its history book. A knock that will live long in Ashes folklore, Head will also remember it as the first chance to spend some time in the middle on the international stage with State teammate and close friend Alex Carey.
Following an illness-enforced break during the Fourth Test, Head then showcased his talent to the world from a green strip in Hobart to push Australia into a winning position on the opening day of the fifth and final contest. Asked to begin his work in the ninth over with the score 3/12, Head joined Labuschagne on the Blundstone surface and immediately looked to turn the tide.
Combining for 80 crucial runs at a rapid rate, the two began the rebuilding process with confidence and clarity. When Broad removed Labuschagne’s bails however, it was over to Head to take full charge, something he did without concern during a brilliant partnership with Cameron Green.
On a track that most found difficult, Head and Green sourced 121 runs together to successfully wrestle control of the game back their way. When Head departed for 101 from 113 balls, the score had moved from 3/12 to 5/207 under his watch, a performance that secured not only a Player of the Match nod, but also the title of most influential across the series.
Head’s twin centuries in the 2021/22 Ashes Series have also sparked memories of the last South Australian to achieve the feat, Greg Blewett in the home 1994/95 campaign.
Remarkably, Blewett’s centuries came in back-to-back contests that also marked his entry into Test Match cricket. Debuting in the fourth Test at Adelaide Oval, the dashing right-hander came to the crease in Australia’s first innings with the historic scoreboard showing 4/207 in pursuit of England’s 353. Shaking off the nerves to partner with Ian Healy for a 164-run partnership, Blewett’s maiden Test innings finished unbeaten on 102* as he guided Australia to a first innings lead.
The following week, Blewett spent hours in the middle of the WACA with inspirational captain Steve Waugh as the two put on 203 to take the final Test away from England. Blewett amassed 115 in the second innings before Craig McDermott bowled the home side to a 3-1 series victory. Blewett would go on to play 46 Tests beneath the baggy green, scoring a total of 2552 runs.
While the feats of these two brilliant South Australian batters stand completely alone, it is worth noting a statistical similarity in their performances during cricket’s greatest rivalry. Both Head and Blewett now have eight Ashes clashes in their kitbag, with each striding to the middle with bat in hand 14 times, and each ending not out once.
Blewett scored 630 runs from those innings at an average of 48.46, scoring three centuries and two half-centuries with a high score of 125. Head has 548 runs at an average of 42.15 with two centuries, two half-centuries and a best of 152.
As the book closes on another thrilling Ashes contest, South Australia can be proud of the impact two brilliant cricketers and proud locals had on the iconic rivalry. In addition to Head’s remarkable performances, Alex Carey also claimed the record for most catches in a Test debut, something he added to with a fighting half-century at Adelaide Oval and a brilliant second innings 49 at a critical time in Hobart.
17 January 2022