The Sunday Mail
Australia opener Travis Head has a confirmed fracture in his left hand that puts his availability for the early part of the World Cup in jeopardy after he was struck by a Gerald Coetzee short delivery in the fourth One-Day International against South Africa at SuperSport Park on Friday.
Head was on nine, facing his eighth delivery, when he was struck on the left glove attempting a pull off Coetzee.
He received treatment onfield from the Australian medical staff before continuing to bat, but only faced three more deliveries before retiring hurt in clear discomfort.
He was sent to hospital for an x-ray and Australia coach Andrew McDonald confirmed after the match that it had shown a fracture.
He will have further scans with more information on the severity of his injury and a timeline for his recovery to be determined. Head did return to the ground at the end of the match, but had his left hand in a splint.
“At this stage, it’s a confirmed fracture.
“How long that timeframe is, we are yet to determine that.
“Fingers crossed with the World Cup fast approaching,” McDonald said post-match.
Australia’s chase of 417 suffered early dents when they were reduced to 22 for two, but Head made a strong start.
After he was struck, he whipped Marco Jansen over deep backward square for six but then toe-ended the next ball just short of Kagiso Rabada at mid-off, taking the injured hand off the bat while playing the stroke.
He immediately removed his glove at the non-striker’s end. The next ball he faced he made room to cut but Coetzee followed him and cramped him as he tried to flay it through the offside.
He immediately winced in severe pain after playing the stroke and walked straight to the dressing room, informing stand-in South Africa captain Aiden Markram and the umpires that he could not continue as he walked off.
Australia were 53 for two in the ninth over at the time and ended up being bowled out for 252 with Head not returning to bat when the ninth wicket fell.
The injury will increase speculation that Marnus Labuschagne, who was not part of Australia’s initial World Cup squad, could force his way into the final playing group.
Labuschagne came on as a concussion substitute in the first ODI and scored an unbeaten 80 in a match-winning cause, and followed that up with 124 in the second game.
Head’s injury adds to Australia’s long list of concerns heading to the World Cup.
Pat Cummins (wrist fracture), Steven Smith (wrist tendon), Mitchell Starc (groin), Glenn Maxwell (leg) are all coming off lay-offs, and hoping to be fit for the three-match ODI series against India that starts on September 22 in the lead-up to the World Cup.
Ashton Agar also only played one game in South Africa, coming off a calf strain, before heading home to Perth for the birth of his first child.
He was supposed to play at least two but he was unavailable due to soreness before flying home and he is unlikely to return to the squad until after the India ODI series. Cameron Green is coming off a concussion in the opening match of the South Africa series, but McDonald was hopeful he would be available for final game of the series today after serving his mandatory eight-day rest period.
“He’s been cleared by the medical team,” McDonald said.
“He is just working away getting prepared. Hopefully, he’s available for game five,” he said. — Cricinfo.