BRISBANE - Travis Head has challenged Australia's new-look top order to set the right platform for Chris Lynn's destructive power-hitting in Friday's one-dayer against Pakistan.
Fresh from his red-hot KFC Big Bash League form with the Brisbane Heat, Lynn is considered a strong chance of making his ODI debut at the Gabba, his home ground. The 26-year-old will be sidelined for tonight's BBL|06 clash between the Heat and the Perth Scorchers while on Australia duty, replaced in the Heat XI by one of Sam Heazlett or Marnus Labuschagne.
But Lynn is one of three new faces in the Australia squad, alongside Usman Khawaja and Billy Stanlake, with George Bailey, Aaron Finch and Hilton Cartwright all dropped. "Lynny's batting fantastic, he can clear the fence with ease so if we can build a great platform and if he's in that middle order, it'll be scary what we can get," Head told reporters on Wednesday. "He's been putting on a show in every game and he's been fantastic. Given opportunity, I think he'll go out and do the same thing. He loves batting here and hopefully he can keep doing what he's been doing for the last few weeks."
"I think it's scary now what you can get in the last 20 overs of a one-dayer if you set a great platform, which is what we've done against New Zealand," he said. "We were able to set good platforms and give 25 overs to playing like T20. Yeah, it definitely brings in guys into it, a lot more than [before]. Lynny's batting fantastic, yeah, he can clear the fence with ease, so if we build a good platform and if he's in that middle order, it's scary what we can get." It's anticipated Head and Khawaja could play up the order so Lynn – who has scored 309 runs in five BBL matches batting at No.3 this summer – can come in later and attempt to replicate his T20 form with no pressure on his shoulders.
In 2016, Australia passed 300 six times in eight ODIs at home, and scored 296 in one of the other two matches. This sort of run-scoring, Head felt, had something to do with Twenty20 cricket redefining the possibilities of 50-overs cricket. With the middle-order addition of Chris Lynn, who comes into the ODI squad with 309 runs - at an average of 154.50 and a strike rate of 177.58 - and 26 sixes in five BBL matches, Head said it was "scary" what a power-packed Australian line-up could achieve.
Head said Lynn was taking the extra attention since his BBL exploits in his stride. "He's a pretty relaxed bloke," he said. "He'll take that all in but he backs himself really well, he backs his skills. There's no doubt he'll go out and play the same way given an opportunity."
Head, meanwhile, said he was pleased with his own recent form for Australia but is desperate to notch the big score that has so far eluded him. He scored 52 and 57 against New Zealand in last month's ODI series and was also one of Australia's better performers on the ill-fated tour of South Africa late last year.
But despite several strong starts at international level he is yet to score a century. "I had the opportunity to do that in a few games and wasn't able to," Head said. "I'm in good form at the minute, feel really good, batting really well in the nets. Someone's going to get an opportunity to go up the order (and) whoever gets it is going to be really looking forward to it, because it's a beautiful batting wicket out here, we know there's runs for offer."
Asked about the possibility of a Test-match call-up ahead of the upcoming tour of India, Head stressed the importance of scoring runs "at the right time" to be in contention. "You're going to do what you can do in Shield cricket, I guess, get runs and wickets, and if you're performing, then I guess the next couple of one-day games, if you're in the team and getting runs at the right time - we've seen with a lot of guys, runs at the right time helps, but looking forward to the next five games and trying to do my job in the side, stay in the side, and see what happens."