Pat Cummins, Andrew McDonald defend Marnus Labuschagne

Updated - 04 Mar 2024, 12:16 PM

Marnus Labuschagne
Marnus Labuschagne [PC: Clive Mason/Getty]

Australia captain Pat Cummins and head coach Andrew McDonald have insisted there is no pressure on under-performing Marnus Labuschagne. While the team from Down Under has been in superb form in Tests in the ongoing season and thrashed New Zealand by 172 runs in the recently-concluded first Test, the form of their batters is a big concern.

Marnus Labuschagne’s form has been one of the major talking points. Labuschagne did score fifties in both the innings of the Sydney Test against Pakistan in January but has struggled for runs since then. He registered scores of 10, 1*, 3, and 5 against the West Indies before being dismissed for 1 and 2 against New Zealand.

Questions are now being raised about Marnus Labuschagne’s position in the team. However, the former world number one Test batter has received the backing of captain Cummins. Speaking after the first Test, the Australia pacer said that his under-performing teammate is under no pressure for his place in the team.

“Absolutely not. I think he’d be the first to admit he’d like to score some more runs. And it’s not through lack of trying in the nets. I think particularly that second innings was just one of those ones down leg,” said Cummins.

“We’re very clear that these six guys are the six best batters in Australia and although at times they might not have clicked altogether at once the story of our team has been someone’s being able to stand up when they need to,” he added.

Australia’s batting is under scrutiny after their collapse in the second innings of the first Test against New Zealand. They were bowled out for just 164 runs with Nathan Lyon’s 41 being the highest score. Even in the first innings, no batter apart from Cameron Green (174*) could reach the 50-run mark.

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Australia head coach defends Marnus Labuschagne:

Andrew McDonald was also asked about Marnus Labuschagne’s poor run of form with the bat. In reply, the former Australia allrounder said that Labuschagne’s form is not a major concern. He also said that the team management is more focused on the collective effort.

“I don’t think there’s any great concern from our point of view,” McDonald said. “We want the top six, seven batters to be performing as a collective. So I think while the rest are performing around that and you’re winning games of cricket, I think the concern levels are fractionally lower.

“Can he perform better? No doubt about that. Does he know that? He knows that. Is he working on it? Yes.

“Over time there’s going to be some ebbs and flows in your career. And I thought in the second innings, and this is really hard to sort of quantify, but I thought the intent and the energy he brought to the crease, and that was only two runs so I don’t want to get carried away with two runs, but that’s what we see when he’s at his best.

“We saw that at Sydney [against Pakistan] in the second innings as well. We saw that in Manchester as well where he came out there and he had the intent to score and put it back onto the bowlers. So that’s when we think he’s at his best,” he added.

Australia have already taken an unassailable 1-0 lead in the two-match series by winning the first Test. The visitors thrashed New Zealand by 172 runs in the series opener. The second Test is scheduled to be played on Thursday (March 7) in Christchurch.

Also Read: Sunil Gavaskar slams India’s decision to rest Jasprit Bumrah


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