Success stories in Test cricket often bring a sense of pride and happiness to ardent lovers of the format. The 2019 season saw many big moments happen in Test cricket. Australia, in particular, witnessed many of these things. The Australian team produced a strong 2-2 result in the Ashes 2019 to retain the urn. Steve Smith and David Warner graced Test cricket after their respective 12-month bans. Australia has also dominated the show of late and things look bright for the Tim Paine-led unit. Amidst all this, the biggest success story was that of Marnus Labuschagne.
The 26-year-old came in as a concussion substitute for Steve Smith in the second Ashes Test against England. One expected the player to fill in the hole before Smith’s return to the side. However, things changed with both Labuschagne and Smith taking guard for the fourth Test.
This was after the right-handed Marnus Labuschagne smashed three successive fifties. Since then, Australia has found a new number three-star in the line-up. Labuschagne has fitted in so well into Test cricket and at the moment it is hard to stop his run. From August 2019, Marnus Labuschagne has taken matters seriously and cashed in on the opportunity that came in an unexpected fashion.
Runs aren’t the only important aspect for a batsman in Test cricket. It is about time, grit, reading of the situation and having the hunger and will to succeed. In a period of just four months, Labuschagne has gone on to become the highest run-scorer in Tests this year and his impact on the game has been massive.
Australia can brag about the promising batsman and they have finally got a number three player, who can take off the pressure from Warner and Smith to do all the scoring. Let’s be honest, Smith was the main fulcrum in Ashes when Warner failed. The batting revolved around him. However, Labuschagne presented the calmness and showed he can hang in there and score.
Now all of a sudden, the Aussies have a new run-scoring machine in the longest format. This helps the side massively. In this article, we look at how Labuschagne has dictated Test cricket in 2019 and why he is a special talent.
Ashes 2019 saw Marnus Labuschagne grow in Test cricket
Prior to the Ashes 2019, the cricketer had made his debut last year. He also went on to participate in Test matches against India and Sri Lanka prior to the Ashes 2nd Test. The right-handed batsman scored his maiden Test fifty (81) against Lanka in January 2019. He looked solid at number five, after Nathan Lyon was sent above him as a night watchman.
Post the failure in the second Test, Labuschagne was dropped to the bench for the first Ashes Test. However, he came to bat in the second innings of the second Test at Lord’s, after Smith was felled by a Jofra Archer bouncer.
Things changed drastically for the player, who was signed by Glamorgan in English County back in April.
To come in and replace the high-flying Smith was no easy task. But Marnus Labuschagne stood tall and showed that he deserves a shout in terms of chances in Test cricket. He scored 59 at Lord’s and that helped him be retained for the third Test in the absence of Smith. The runs followed as Labuschagne scored 74 and 80 in the third Test match to be Australia’s leading candidate in a thrilling contest at Headingley.
The player featured alongside Smith next in the fourth Ashes Test match and scored 67 and 11. In the concluding Test, he got scores of 48 and 14 to finish his journey at 353 runs at an average of 50.42. This was a major box ticked by the Aussies.
Test cricket: Labuschagne is a big-match player and can score emphatically
In Ashes 2019, Labuschagne showed his promise, however, he couldn’t get the big scores in terms of conversion rates. Against Pakistan at home last month, the player stunned one all with two match-defining centuries. The batsman showed he has more to his game than scoring fifties.
He scored his maiden Test century (185 against Pakistan) in Brisbane last month. He scored the runs in a 279-ball knock that consisted of 20 fours. The cricketer then went on to score 162 in the Day-Night Test at the Adelaide Oval. This time his knock came off 238 deliveries and included 22 fours. Notably, he amassed a 361-run stand for the second wicket alongside triple centurion David Warner, who enjoyed a sublime run in the series.
Labuschagne wasn’t done and he scored a third successive century (143) against New Zealand at Perth. He smashed 18 fours and got his maiden six of 2019. In the second innings of the match, the swashbuckling cricketer responded with an 81-ball 50.
When you look at this transformation and consistency, Labuschagne deserves all the plaudits. He works hard, trains with a lot of focus and believes in utter simplicity. His range of shots and ability to defend makes him a sorted individual who knows the art of Test cricket batting.
The numbers speak volumes for Marnus Labuschagne in Test cricket
Labuschagne was brilliant against New Zealand in the first Test at the Perth Stadium. With his 50-run knock, he scripted a fourth successive fifty-plus score in Test cricket. The promising batsman has nine fifty-plus scores (3 tons and 6 fifties) this year and this is the best tally amassed by any player in Test cricket.
His ability to fend off the pressure and play as per his tunes saw him face the most deliveries in Test cricket this year. The 25-year-old is also the only batsman in 2019 to smash 1,000-plus runs in Test cricket. Marnus Labuschagne has scored a total of 1,022 runs at an average of 68.13. He is way above the star-studded Steve Smith (873), who is the second-best in terms of runs this year.
With runs, Marnus Labuschagne has also shown his love for boundaries. He has scored the most fours in Tests in 2019 (123). The player has shown his capability of stitching important partnerships and with four hundred-plus stands this year, the Aussie cricketer stands out. We need to credit him for setting the standards in the game this year.
Australia is a side that looks more than just Warner and Smith. This makes them a crucial force in the ICC World Test Championship.