Australia

Usman Khawaja’s captaincy may cost him an Ashes spot after Travis Head tons up

South Australian batter Travis Head has streaked to a Sheffield Shield century that could secure him a spot in Australia’s first Ashes Test XI, and he can thank Queensland captain Usman Khawaja for the opportunity.

With the first Test scheduled to start at the Gabba on December 8, the game at Adelaide’s Karen Rolton Oval was the last in-game chance for Khawaja and Head to prove they deserved the sole spot up for grabs in Australia’s middle order.

Khawaja only managed 4 and Head 8 in their respective first innings on a difficult pitch, but after South Australia was dismissed for just 102 early on day three, Khawaja enforced the follow-on.

That gave Queensland the best chance of getting a win but also gifted Head another shot to impress selectors and he snapped it up.

The Redbacks skipper scored his second century of the Sheffield Shield season, making 101 before he was dismissed by Matt Kuhnemann.

South Australia was eventually dismissed for 284, which left Queensland with a victory target of 88. The visitors were 0-5 at stumps on day three.

Khawaja is set to bat at number four, but may not get the chance for a second innings, given Queensland has a seemingly comfortable run chase ahead on the final day.

One of Head’s batting partners, opener Jake Weatherald, was at the centre of a strange confrontation with Khawaja earlier in the day.

Between the eighth and ninth overs, Queensland’s Matt Renshaw placed a fielder’s helmet in front of the stumps at the striker’s end and Weatherald, after walking back to take his guard, wound up and just about kicked the badge off the helmet out towards gully.

Usman Khawaja was not pleased after Jake Weatherald booted a helmet off the pitch.(Supplied: Kayo Sports)

That earned him a stern rebuke from Khawaja, although the Queensland captain left the conversation with a smile, and the umpires had a word as well.

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