Travis Head is in a race against time to be fit for the Cricket World Cup after breaking his hand in Australia's embarrassing loss to South Africa in the fourth ODI. Head was struck on the glove by a ball from Gerald Coetzee and was forced to retire hurt early in Australia's run chase.
Aussie coach Andrew McDonald revealed after the game that Head had fractured his hand. With Australia's first match of the World Cup to take place on October 8, Head would be at long odds to recover in time.
"It's a confirmed fracture," McDonald said. "As to the nature of what sort of time frame that lends itself to, that will be assessed tomorrow.
"I think he's going to go in for more scans tomorrow to get a detail of that, then we'll work out the management of it from there. I'm not a medical person but I think it's a bit higher up than the finger itself ... it's in a joint (in the hand) somewhere. Fingers crossed with the World Cup fast approaching."
Marnus Labuschagne appears the most likely candidate to replace Head if the left-hander is ruled out of the World Cup. Labuschagne was left out of Australia's 15-man squad for the World Cup, but has been given a chance to push for a late call-up due to a number of withdrawals from the South Africa series.
Labuschagne only made 20 on Friday night, but produced scores of 80 not out and 124 in the first two matches. Head's injury was part of a brutal night for the Aussies, who lost by over 100 runs for the second game running.
Australia were knocked over for 252 in response to South Africa's mammoth total of 5-416, losing by 164 runs. After winning the first two games of the series, they lost the third ODI by 111 runs.
Alex Carey produced the only score of note for the tourists, making 99 before gloving a short ball to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock. The loss marked Australia's second-heaviest of all time in ODIs against South Africa.
Heinrich Klaasen makes cricket history as ODI records tumble
Heinrich Klaasen made an extraordinary 174 off just 83 balls as South Africa batted first. David Miller blasted 82 not out off 45 balls as the pair belted 19 fours and 18 sixes between them and shared in a blistering 222-run fifth-wicket stand from just 94 deliveries.
Klaasen century was the fourth-fastest by a South African in ODIs, bettered only by AB de Villiers (twice) and Mark Boucher. When he finally holed out to Nathan Ellis in the deep off the final ball of the innings, he fell four runs shy of de Kock's venue record of 178 at Centurion.
After smashing 173 from the last 10 overs, the Proteas amassed their fifth-highest total in ODIs and their best at this venue. It was the third biggest score ever conceded by Australia in the 50-over format.
None of the tourists' bowlers were spared in the onslaught, with only Michael Neser (1-59) going at under a run-a-ball while playing in his first ODI since 2018. Leg-spinner Adam Zampa returned figures of 0-113 from 10 overs, equalling the unwanted record for most runs ever conceded by a bowler in an ODI. Fellow Aussie Mick Lewis also went for 113 runs against South Africa in 2006.
"Sometimes you look at what you can do better but also you've got to pay credit to the ability of the opponent," McDonald said. "They put extreme pressure on us and that was some serious hitting. I don't think we've seen too many innings like that before."
The fifth and deciding game of the series will take place in Johannesburg this Sunday. Fans were left heartbroken for Head, with his World Cup availability in major doubt.
worst news really wanted to see him play this cwc .He being at peak of his powers will be a huge miss if so.
— All Things Cricket (@AllThingsCrick3) September 15, 2023
I can’t print the four letter word I’m thinking of
— christopher ferguson (@5Swannie) September 15, 2023
A day to forget for Australia in their fourth ODI against South Africa.
An 164-run defeat. ✅
Adam Zampa records joint-worst ODI bowling figures in history. ✅
Travis Head retires injured. ✅
Alex Carey dismissed on 99. ✅ https://t.co/LMbSXNkq30
— Jonty Colman (@JontyColman) September 15, 2023
Travis Head broke his arm ? Well that’s very sad I must say
— AA (@Ayushxa) September 15, 2023
— Abhishek Pandey (@abhishekp100) September 15, 2023
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