Only Bradman awaits: The records keep on tumbling for Marnus Labuschagne
Another day of Test cricket in Australia; another day of domination for Marnus Labuschagne.
Well… not exactly. The Australia No.3 was dropped twice by England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler during his innings on the opening day of the Adelaide Test as he finished it unbeaten on 95.
Nonetheless, the runs keep stacking up for Labuschagne, who began his series with a knock of 74 and only trails David Warner in the run-scoring charts for the series. On Thursday he was forced to battle to a score as England’s battery of right-arm fast-mediums kept a lid on the scoring rate: while Labuschagne raced to 10 off nine deliveries, he hit 13 off his next 90 balls. But the right-hander kept himself in the game, reaching his half-century off 156 deliveries.
A reward for the attrition was another record broken: on his way to 95, Labuschagne passed the landmark of 2,000 runs in his 34th Test innings, making him the fifth-fastest batter in history to reach the landmark. The only men to have got there quicker in terms of innings played are Don Bradman, George Headley, Herbert Sutcliffe and Mike Hussey (the only one to have done it in the 21st century).
The achievement highlights the astonishing start Labuschagne has enjoyed to his Test career. After making his debut in the UAE in October 2018, the Queensland batter nailed down his place during the 2019 Ashes and hasn’t looked back since. Since the start of the Lord’s Test during that series, Labuschagne has hit 1,844 Test runs at an average of 76.83, with his career average currently sitting at 64.18. Of those to have batted in at least 20 Test innings, only Bradman holds a higher average.
Labuschagne’s best work has come at No.3, where he’s batted in 24 innings and hit all five of his Test hundreds. Of No.3s in Test cricket who have hit more than 1,000 runs in the position, only Bradman and Ken Barrington average more than Labuschagne (75.86). In the 21st century, 18 men have hit more runs in the position than Labuschagne, but none of them have done so at a higher average.
The 27-year-old has had few opportunities to show people what he can do overseas in Test cricket – Australia have not played away from home since the 2019 Ashes – but it’s been made clear that he is a dominant force at home. Of batters to have hit more than 1,000 Test runs in Australia, only Bradman (98.22), once again, averages more than Labuschagne (77.14). Since the start of the 2019/20 Australian summer, Labuschagne has failed to hit a half-century in only two of his 11 Test appearances at home.
When Labuschagne enjoyed a breakout series against England two years ago, it was down to a run of four consecutive half-centuries in the series. Three figures never came calling then but it may well do on Friday – a maiden Ashes ton could well be in the offing.
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