REDBACKS captain Travis Head has declared he is ready to stake his claim for a long-awaited Test spot in this week’s Sheffield Shield opener against star-studded New South Wales.
Head said runs against the Blues at Adelaide Oval would count for plenty in his bid to force his way into the Australian side for the first Ashes Test against England at the Gabba from November 23-27.
Head, 23, has been on the cusp of Australian Test selection since making his international Twenty20 debut in January last year and believes he is “one of about a dozen guys fighting for the top six (batting) spots’’ in Australia’s First XI.
“With the Australian captain (Steve Smith) standing at second slip and facing virtually the Australian attack this week it’s a great opportunity to put my name up there,’’ swashbuckling left-handed batsman Head told The Advertiser.
“I’ve seen a lot of stuff written about the team over the past month but it’s runs that will get you in.
“Without trying to put too much pressure on myself it’s a great opportunity first-up to make runs against a high-quality team.
“I’ve been batting well without getting anywhere near the amount of runs I would have liked (for Australia against India in Twenty20 and One-Day internationals and South Australia in the JLT One-Day Cup).
“I think I’m doing all the right things off the field and I’m in good form so it’s just a matter of turning that into runs.
“The good thing about four-day cricket is that you can bat as slow or as fast as you want, just adapt to the conditions and get into a real battle.
“I’m looking forward to that and hopefully we can get a win and I can put a couple of good points next to my name.’’
The Redbacks will face a New South Wales side in the day-night encounter starting Friday that will field 10 players with Australian experience.
The Blues’ bowling line-up includes tearaways Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins, Sean Abbott and star off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
While Head is fighting for an Australian batting spot, Redbacks teammate Alex Carey will be keen to showcase his wares.
The wicketkeeper/batsman also is in contention for an Ashes Test debut as he tries to jump the queue ahead of Matthew Wade and Peter Nevill.
Nevill will keep for the Blues in the Shield opener.
SA, which has made the past two Shield finals, will play three Shield matches before the first Test, with games to follow against Victoria and Western Australia.
“It’s good for the competition to have everyone available for the first three Shield games and will show how good first-class cricket is in Australia,’’ Head said.
“Hopefully we can get off to a good start and set our season up because I really think that we are playing as well as I’ve seen us play.
“Our batting, bowling and fielding has all improved and I think we’ve matured as a group too.’’