Australia's Travis Head watches as England's Ben Stokes fails to make a catch during play on the fifth day of the second Test match.
Australia's Travis Head watches as England's Ben Stokes fails to make a catch during play on the fifth day of the second Test match.

Headstart on safety: ‘I may as well get used to it’

AUSTRALIAN vice-captain Travis Head wore protective stem guards on his helmet when he went out to save the second Test at Lord's as a result of the ferocious bowling that put teammate Steve Smith out of the match.

Like Smith, Head preferred not wear them previously for comfort reasons, as did many of his teammates given the padded guards are not mandatory despite the extra protection they offer.

But in the face of the short bowling assault from Jofra Archer, on a pitch that was offering variable bounce, Head grabbed the extra protection from a cache Australian team doctor Richard Saw takes to every match.

Cricket Australia is exploring ways to make them compulsory, and the South Australian expects that happen sooner rather than later

"I guess with the conditions in Australia you can sway out the way, the bounce is quite true," Head said after arriving in Leeds for Thursday's third Test.

"I think what we have seen at Lord's, with the slope, there was a lot of balls following batters and going down the slope. I wore it yesterday (Sunday) and probably will wear it for the rest of the series I guess.

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"The wickets are a little bit slower and … as you've seen with Steve getting hit you can get yourself into tricky positions.

"I think it'll become mandatory … I may as well get used to it now and then start putting them on. I guess, it is just better to be safe than copping one."

Head said there was no team rule to wear the helmet pads, but he anticipated more players would with the expectation of more short bowling for the rest of the series.

Australia's Travis Head (right), wearing the protective padding, and Australia's Pat Cummins walk from the pitch after England and Australia drew the second Test.
Australia's Travis Head (right), wearing the protective padding, and Australia's Pat Cummins walk from the pitch after England and Australia drew the second Test.

"It's definitely a plan that both teams are using and definitely both batting teams have been talking about it," he said.

"So yeah, if it comes around again it is expected and if not, great, it is what it is. I can't think of a lot of dismissals from it."

Coming in with 34 overs still to survive in the second innings at Lord's, Head overcame a nervous start, with several near misses facing spinner Jack Leach, to guide Australia to safety.

The 25-year-old said it was a confidence builder for himself, as was the draw for the team, which could have to play the third Test without Smith.

"Hopefully he comes good but obviously Marnus came in and played beautifully, Wadey got a hundred at Edgbaston so I think we have got guys who are in form," Head said.

"So I think it showed without Steve yesterday we were able to get the job done.

"I think the mood around the group since that moment is better and better and stronger and stronger."