Travis Head’s hand fracture puts World Cup availability in doubt

Travis Head suffered a fracture in his left hand during the fourth ODI against South Africa on September 15.

Australia could be dealt a major blow with Travis Head’s availability for the start of the World Cup in jeopardy. The opening batter suffered a fracture in his left hand and was retired hurt during the fourth ODI against South Africa at SuperSport Park on Friday.

Head was struck on the left glove facing his eighth delivery, when he attempted a pull off Gerald Coetzee. He received treatment from the physio on the field before continuing to bat but could only  face three more balls before retiring hurt.

After taking a blow on the hand, he flicked Marco Jansen for a six over deep backward square. The next ball, he mis-hit just short of mid-off, taking the injured hand off the bat while playing the stroke. In the following Coetzee over, Head made room to cut but was cramped and looked in pain. He immediately walked off the pitch.

Travis Head in doubt for World Cup

Australia coach Andrew McDonald confirmed that Head was sent to hospital for an x-ray and he has a fracture. The batter was due to undergo more scans on Saturday, which would give more idea about the severity of his injury and expected timeline for his recovery.

“At this stage, it’s a confirmed fracture and how long that timeframe is, we’re yet to determine that so fingers crossed clearly with the World Cup fast approaching. I’m not a medical person, but I think it’s a little bit higher up than the actual [index] finger itself. But I don’t know the actual terminology. It’s in a joint somewhere so I won’t go into the medical specifics. But, yeah, a confirmed fracture and to be assessed again tomorrow with another scan,” McDonald said post-match.

Australia were given a target of 417 in the fourth ODI but they just kept losing wickets and were eventually bowled out for 252 with Head not returning to bat after the ninth wicket.

Head’s injury is the new addition to Australia’s long list of injury concerns ahead of the World Cup. Pat Cummins (wrist fracture), Glenn Maxwell (leg), Steven Smith (wrist tendon) and Mitchell Starc (groin) have all been out of action recently and are hoping to be fit for the ODI series against India that begins on September 22.

Cameron Green had sustained a concussion in the opening match of the South Africa series but McDonald expects him to be available for the final game on Sunday after completing his mandatory eight-day rest period.

READ: South Africa vs Australia, 5th ODI prediction

In case Head’s injury is more severe than expected, Australia could go with Marnus Labuschagne, who was excluded from Australia’s initial World Cup squad. Labuschagne was called upon as a concussion substitute in the first ODI and he scored a magnificent 80 not-out to take the side over the line after they were 113/7 chasing 223. He followed that up with 124 in the second match and pushed his case further.

Talking about the ongoing series, Australia had claimed victories in the first two games but chinks in their depleted squad eventually caught up and they were hammered in the next two games.

Heading into the final game, Spencer Johnson still remains unavailable due to a hamstring injury while Mitchell Marsh won’t bowl in this match as well due to ankle soreness he picked up during the Ashes. McDonald confirmed that he would resume bowling in India. With Head ruled out, Marsh looks set to open the innings after the success he had in India earlier this year.

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