Head hopeful of joining World Cup squad in India on Thursday

The impact of the left-hander's absence has been clear amid Australia's poor start to the tournament

Travis Head is racing to be fit to play a part in the World Cup  Gallo Images/Getty Images

Travis Head has returned to the nets for the first time since he suffered a fractured hand in South Africa and is hopeful of being able to fly out to join the World Cup squad in India on Thursday.

Loading ...

Head had the cast removed late last week and is now facing throwdowns. Scans have shown the fracture, inflicted by fast bowler Gerald Coetzee at Centurion, is healing well although he still needs a final sign-off before joining the Australia team.

The earliest possible return for Head would appear to be the Netherlands match on October 25 although that may still be cutting things fine.

"It's coming along well, and probably better than we hoped," Head told "When we decided not to go with surgery, which would have meant a ten-week recovery, we were told it would be minimum six weeks with the splint before we could look at playing again.

"Going by that plan, the Netherlands game will be just under six weeks from impact which is a pretty aggressive date so everything would have to go perfectly from here to make that deadline.

"But we'll just see how it progresses over the next few days and I'm excited by the prospect of joining the boys over there later in the week."

Head's importance to Australia's plans was emphasised when the selectors opted to only have 14 available players for the first part of the tournament and effectively saw them replace Ashton Agar with a specialist batter in Marnus Labuschagne to help cover for Head's absence.

He had been having a magnificent run the ODI side, averaging 60.84 with a strike rate of 119.84 since his return in 2022. Former Australia captain Aaron Finch said the impact of his absence had been clear during the team's early struggles.

"Sometimes it's not the amount of runs he gets but the pressure he puts on the opposition because they know he's going to come hard, they can panic and get a bit defensive in their mindset and then [David] Warner gets away, and if [Mitchell] Marsh comes in, he gets away as well," Finch told ESPNcricinfo.

Australia are yet to score a half-century in the tournament and have been bowled out for 199 and 177 in their two games. But it will be asking a lot of Head to come in and perform straightaway.

While the selectors have put huge stock in what Head is capable of, there remains a possibility they still opt to replace him and the chance of that could increase if Australia are unable to win against Sri Lanka on Monday, which would leave them a mountain to climb to reach the semi-finals.

"There's still a few hurdles we need to clear, and everything needs to fall into place from my end and from the team's point of view over there before the final decision is made," Head said.

Travis HeadAustraliaICC Cricket World Cup