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Australia's county sojourn could be one of the last of its kind

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It is unknown how many of the 3000 Worcester folk who paid £30 ($54) for tickets to see the Australian cricket team this week were expecting Steve Smith. There was no chance, of course, that the main attraction would appear, having opted to recharge batteries run down by his extraordinary efforts at Edgbaston. A good crowd still hobbled in, skewed towards the elderly, not very elite-looking despite the elite entry charges.

Smith's absence was a poser about the meaning of the vestigial tradition of county matches on Ashes tours, and whether we are seeing the last of their kind.

Travis Head on his way to a century against Worcestershire.Credit:Getty Images

The setting was a miniature of modern England, Worcester Cathedral overlooking the New Road ground from a distance while, up close, a chain motel had the prime possie. The ladies' pavilion, where signs ban mobile phones because they "cause annoyance", was serving up homemade cakes made famous in Dickie Bird's autobiography. The players' changing rooms are in the Graeme Hick Pavilion, a reminder that grey-haired assistant coaches were once youngsters who could play a bit.

Travis Head has also played for Worcestershire, and for Australia he made a century on Wednesday, though probably not enough to get a stand named after him. His teammates went through the motions with varying intensity before Josh Hazlewood and........

© The Age