live Infotainment Factory: How 'strange' hero plotted wild Ashes moment

Trending

>

Post Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Sunday, 8 September 2019

How 'strange' hero plotted wild Ashes moment


//

Marnus Labuschagne was in no one's Ashes squad.

Not back when he was telling Australian great Ian Healy, a fellow Queenslander, that he would be ready to play if he got the call.

"He always told me last summer, 'I'll be ready, I'll be ready'," Healy revealed to Wide World of Sports, after Labuschagne produced a match-winning moment that helped Australia retain the Ashes at Old Trafford.

"Having been dropped from the Pakistan series in Dubai, then having a run in Australia last summer and then dropped again, he's just got that mindset.

"He certainly got a chance, and he was ready."

Labuschagne, 25, posted his best Test score (81) against a poor Sri Lanka side in the penultimate Test of the home summer, otherwise failing with the bat. Given that Joe Burns made 180 and Kurtis Patterson 114 not out in the final Test, and were still only fringe Ashes chances thanks to Steve Smith and David Warner's looming returns, Labuschagne looked to be in no man's land.

But as promised, he prepared. He readied his game, which boasted a modest first-class average and did not looked especially suited to Test cricket.

He joined English county side Glamorgan and went on a run spree, adapting beautifully to the conditions. By the start of the Ashes, he'd scored five centuries including twin tons against Worcestershire, and passed the 1,000-run mark for the county season.

After a gritty 41 in a low-scoring Australian intra-squad match, he'd effectively forced the hand of Australian selectors. Form on the seaming decks of England and proven aptitude against the swinging Duke's ball is not to be disregarded when you haven't won an away Ashes series in 18 years.

Then Labuschagne got his historically-sudden Ashes debut, called up mid-match in the second Test to replace Smith as a concussion substitute. He reeled off four consecutive half-centuries, somehow making himself the most valuable batsman in the team bar the incomparable Smith.

Boasting 281 runs at 58.20 for the series by fifth day of the fourth Test at Old Trafford, Labuschagne was instead asked to produce with his handy leg-spinners. Of course, he'd undertaken the best possible preparation for exactly that eventuality.

"Early in this match, he worked with Shane Warne on pitching the ball in the rough and how he should open out his action, so that he can get it in the rough easier and more consistently," Healy said.

"There's a great message of being ready and prepared, and see how you go if you get that chance."

Labuschagne knew that his bowling might be handy on a fifth-day Manchester pitch that was being worn on both sides, thanks to the selection of Australian left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc alongside righties Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Labuschagne was tasked with breaking a pesky ninth-wicket partnership between Craig Overton and Jack Leach, the bespectacled hero of Headingley. The only thing at stake for the eight-Test Aussie all-rounder was the greatest prize in Test cricket.

He had the chance to bowl his leggies straight into the footmarks outside the off-stump of left-handed Leach. Fifth ball, he dropped a fizzing delivery into the rough, it spat at the England tailender and gave Matthew Wade a simple catch at short leg.

It was wonderful, gutsy captaincy from Tim Paine. It was also strength of character from Labuschagne; a belief that he was the man for that big moment.

"He works hard on his leg-spin. He wants the ball in his hand," Paine said post-match.

Overton fell to Josh Hazlewood two overs later and the game was won; the Ashes retained for the first time in 18 years.

Labuschagne over sets Australia towards Ashes glory

Labuschagne did not merely produce a match-turning moment with that ripping leg-spinner, according to Healy. He also solved a long-standing problem for this Australian team.

"Part-time options have been lacking in our team. Effective part-time options are so valuable," Healy said.

"It's a good lift for the team to know that there are people you can call on to have a crack and that was another moment for this Australian side to grow."

Labuschagne has grown immeasurably and before our eyes this series. He's been fondly branded a "strange" bloke, a cricket nerd to rival Smith, yet already counts Australian coach Justin Langer and iconic former captain Steve Waugh among his admirers.

Labuschagne will be one of the first Australians picked for the final Test at The Oval, where Australia have the chance to win this Ashes series outright. A superstar like Warner, on the other hand, might be dropped and Labuschagne promoted to open the batting in his place.

Go figure. But then, Labuschagne himself planned this all along.

Marnus Labuschagne was in no one's Ashes squad.

Not back when he was telling Australian great Ian Healy, a fellow Queenslander, that he would be ready to play if he got the call.

"He always told me last summer, 'I'll be ready, I'll be ready'," Healy revealed to Wide World of Sports, after Labuschagne produced a match-winning moment that helped Australia retain the Ashes at Old Trafford.

"Having been dropped from the Pakistan series in Dubai, then having a run in Australia last summer and then dropped again, he's just got that mindset.

"He certainly got a chance, and he was ready."

Labuschagne, 25, posted his best Test score (81) against a poor Sri Lanka side in the penultimate Test of the home summer, otherwise failing with the bat. Given that Joe Burns made 180 and Kurtis Patterson 114 not out in the final Test, and were still only fringe Ashes chances thanks to Steve Smith and David Warner's looming returns, Labuschagne looked to be in no man's land.

But as promised, he prepared. He readied his game, which boasted a modest first-class average and did not looked especially suited to Test cricket.

He joined English county side Glamorgan and went on a run spree, adapting beautifully to the conditions. By the start of the Ashes, he'd scored five centuries including twin tons against Worcestershire, and passed the 1,000-run mark for the county season.

After a gritty 41 in a low-scoring Australian intra-squad match, he'd effectively forced the hand of Australian selectors. Form on the seaming decks of England and proven aptitude against the swinging Duke's ball is not to be disregarded when you haven't won an away Ashes series in 18 years.

Then Labuschagne got his historically-sudden Ashes debut, called up mid-match in the second Test to replace Smith as a concussion substitute. He reeled off four consecutive half-centuries, somehow making himself the most valuable batsman in the team bar the incomparable Smith.

Boasting 281 runs at 58.20 for the series by fifth day of the fourth Test at Old Trafford, Labuschagne was instead asked to produce with his handy leg-spinners. Of course, he'd undertaken the best possible preparation for exactly that eventuality.

"Early in this match, he worked with Shane Warne on pitching the ball in the rough and how he should open out his action, so that he can get it in the rough easier and more consistently," Healy said.

"There's a great message of being ready and prepared, and see how you go if you get that chance."

Labuschagne knew that his bowling might be handy on a fifth-day Manchester pitch that was being worn on both sides, thanks to the selection of Australian left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc alongside righties Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Labuschagne was tasked with breaking a pesky ninth-wicket partnership between Craig Overton and Jack Leach, the bespectacled hero of Headingley. The only thing at stake for the eight-Test Aussie all-rounder was the greatest prize in Test cricket.

He had the chance to bowl his leggies straight into the footmarks outside the off-stump of left-handed Leach. Fifth ball, he dropped a fizzing delivery into the rough, it spat at the England tailender and gave Matthew Wade a simple catch at short leg.

It was wonderful, gutsy captaincy from Tim Paine. It was also strength of character from Labuschagne; a belief that he was the man for that big moment.

"He works hard on his leg-spin. He wants the ball in his hand," Paine said post-match.

Overton fell to Josh Hazlewood two overs later and the game was won; the Ashes retained for the first time in 18 years.

Labuschagne over sets Australia towards Ashes glory

Labuschagne did not merely produce a match-turning moment with that ripping leg-spinner, according to Healy. He also solved a long-standing problem for this Australian team.

"Part-time options have been lacking in our team. Effective part-time options are so valuable," Healy said.

"It's a good lift for the team to know that there are people you can call on to have a crack and that was another moment for this Australian side to grow."

Labuschagne has grown immeasurably and before our eyes this series. He's been fondly branded a "strange" bloke, a cricket nerd to rival Smith, yet already counts Australian coach Justin Langer and iconic former captain Steve Waugh among his admirers.

Labuschagne will be one of the first Australians picked for the final Test at The Oval, where Australia have the chance to win this Ashes series outright. A superstar like Warner, on the other hand, might be dropped and Labuschagne promoted to open the batting in his place.

Go figure. But then, Labuschagne himself planned this all along.

https://ift.tt/2HXJjlw
//

No comments:

Post a Comment