Travis Head always thought he would have a role to play with the ball in Sri Lanka.
But he never expected anything like he delivered in Galle, helping to spin Australia to victory with 4-10 in Sri Lanka’s third-innings collapse.
When Head began his first over, Sri Lanka were 4-95 and trailing by 14. Down, but still playing with the faintest glimmer of hope.
Some 27 minutes later and Sri Lanka’s innings was over on 113 inside 23 overs, with Nathan Lyon also taking 4-31 in the fastest collapse in the hosts’ history.
“The wicket assisted a fair bit. I got a rare opportunity so I thought I’d take it,” Head said.
“I expected to bowl, but maybe not at that stage of the game.
“It was nice to get it into an area and let the wicket do a lot of the work. Myself and Gaz (Lyon) are very different, coming down at different angles and lines.”
Head’s bowling has always been considered handy at South Australia, but at an international level, he has been used far more in white-ball cricket.
But Australia had long-planned for him to have a role in Sri Lanka.
He has worked closely with Australia’s spin coach Daniel Vettori, putting time into the craft in the nets in Galle.
“It’s just been a work in progress. The return probably hasn’t been as good over the last few years in terms of my bowling,” Head said.
“But I think in these conditions, the skill set I have could maybe play a role, whether it was going to be needed or not.”
Questions had been asked over Head’s spot in the team after he scored six in the first innings, following a failure to score big runs in Pakistan.
Glenn Maxwell can also offer finger spin, but Head would be hard to leave out after showing his versatility on Friday.
His fitness was also a concern prior to the series opener with a hamstring strain, but the South Australian said he was always confident he would play.
“I was very keen to get over the line. As we were close to the Test it become more and more touch and go,” he said.