Australia v New Zealand – Third Test: Day 2 at the SCG

“The Cricketer”
by Kate Birrell

 

It was definitely a case of “Marnus Labuschagne steals the show” on Day 2 of the SCG Test.

 

Yet in no way did Australia have the better of the day’s proceedings.

 

With Australia losing its last seven wickets and adding 171 runs to its score from day one, and then New Zealand’s openers putting on an unbroken 63-run stand, day two was clearly a good one for the Kiwis.

 

With Labuschagne resuming on 130, it was always going to be interesting to see if he would better his highest Test and first-class score of 185, and crack a double ton.

 

The third ball of the day suggested he would do just that, as he used his feet and lofted off-spinner Will Somerville for an authoritative boundary.

 

What happened with Labuschagne’s batting partners was clearly another matter, as Matthew Wade’s off stump was rattled with the sixth ball of the day as the batsman played an ungainly sweep shot.

 

Travis Head was also unconvincing, as he scored 10 in 80 minutes before perishing to a catch at the wicket as he tried to cut a ball that was too close to him.

 

As was the case the previous day, the Kiwis burned a review with insane use of the DRS. New Zealand appealed for lbw against Tim Paine, and then the replays showed that the ball not only pitched outside leg, but also made contact with the bat!

 

Labuschagne streakily edged a drive just wide of leg stump, but he survived until the lunch break. Seventy-one runs in the session showed just how hard New Zealand’s bowlers had worked in the first two hours of the day’s play.

 

Labuschagne subsequently reached his new highest first-class score as an edge flew safely to the third man boundary, before he again cleverly used his feet to drive a boundary off the New Zealand off-spinner.

 

A series of singles took Labuschagne to 199, but then he was stuck on that score for a while as his captain occupied the strike a bit too much. With the last ball before a drinks break, a Matt Henry delivery fizzed past the outside edge of Labuschagne’s bat. A close shave!

 

Labuschagne’s moment of glory arrived as an edge off Colin de Grandhomme flew through the vacant slips cordon to the boundary. Yes, Labuschagne rode his luck a few times with edges that fell safely, but his double ton was very well deserved.

 

Despite giving a fine account of himself in the 2019 Ashes, Labuschagne did not make a three-figure score.

 

But with four Test centuries Down Under in five Tests – not to mention that they were in the illustrious number three position – Labuschagne has become the toast of the cricketing nation.

 

Time will tell if he can maintain an average of 50-plus for the next 10 years, or if he develops any weaknesses that can be exploited.

 

Every time someone scores a Test double century, I instantly remember that Jason Gillespie scored one, while Mark Waugh and Desmond Haynes didn’t.

 

Cricket is a funny game, isn’t it? But I digress.

 

Paine scored some useful runs, before Labuschagne’s monumental innings ended on 215 when a mistimed drive produced a caught-and-bowled for Todd Astle who leapt to take the catch.

 

James Pattinson was bizarrely dismissed when he ducked into a delivery that struck him, and then bounced off the back of the bat and onto the stumps.

 

Some lusty blows from Mitchell Starc took the total to 454, but the Kiwis deserved credit for taking all 10 wickets, and restricting the total to anything below 475. The last five wickets fell for just 44 runs.

 

In reply, Tom Blundell scratchily compiled two runs from the first 36 balls he faced, before unleashing a splendid cover drive for four.

 

Blundell survived an appeal for caught behind as the total was 0-41, with Snicko not revealing an edge even though Hot Spot suggested there may have been a faint spot on the edge of the bat where the ball passed. Fortunately for the Kiwis, and unfortunately for the Aussies, a DRS review was wasted, thus maintaining Paine’s frustrating habit of using the technology at the wrong time.

 

Blundell showed that if Labuschagne could edge fours in the third man region, so could he. Soon after, the 50-run partnership was raised.

 

And so with New Zealand performing creditably with bat and ball on day two, the Kiwis still find themselves 391 runs behind on the first innings with all 10 wickets in hand.

 

Tune in on Sunday to see how the match continues to unfold. And let’s not forget Jane McGrath Day.

 

 

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About Liam Hauser

A Queenslander through and through, Liam went out of his comfort zone as he had a thoroughly worthwhile time in Tumut and Gundagai from 2008 to 2016 before enjoying a year in Gunnedah. His strongest sporting interests are State of Origin, Sheffield Shield, Test cricket and the NRL. His sporting CV doesn’t have many highlights, although he once top-scored in a warehouse cricket match with 54 not out at number 10, and shared in an unbroken last wicket stand of 83 with the number 11 who scored an undefeated 52. Liam has written books including State of Origin 35 Years, A Century of Cricket Tests, A History of Test Cricket, The Immortals of Australian Cricket, The Immortals of Australian Rugby League, and The Great Grand Finals: Rugby League's Greatest Contests. Also a huge fan of Electric Light Orchestra.

Comments

  1. Honours even on Day 2 by my reckoning but Australia has the runs on the board and so retain the upper hand. Inconsistent bounce can only get worse as the game unfolds. How would you like to chase 150 in the final innings?

    Labuschagne deserves every credit but I have a feeling that he will get worked out on leg stump by better qualified attacks. But, on the other hand, he’s wristy and seems to have that option covered at this stage. Let’s acknowledge his year for what it has been – nothing less than brilliant.

    Well done to the Kiwis today – they hung in. But they’ll need a lot more than that to see out tomorrow.

  2. Liam what has endeared Laba shave to us all is how much he loved the game and his g and d when stuck in
    England has there ever been a player improve so much in a year or so is a debatable point.
    A very slow pitch may well give the kiwis a chance at getting a draw.Unfortunately but obviously understandably,Jane McGrath day has been overshadowed by the bushfires thanks,Liam

  3. Thanks for the report Liam. I missed a bit of the days cricket.

    Spot on Rulebook. Labuschagne’s love for the game shines through. He’s a real problem solver at the crease.

  4. citrus bob says

    Many thanks Liam for your report – Laba “is the real thing”. He has feet and he uses them either forward or back a blessing for the cricket world and i am glad Australia have him. Stll a doubt on both head and wade.

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