Watch: Marnus Labuschagne earned a lucky reprieve early on day four in Perth, after a vicious Alzarri Joseph bouncer had him caught at gully with a bat-helmet deflection, only for a no-ball to cancel the dismissal.
Labuschagne has had his fair share of luck through the first Australia-West Indies Test, fighting through close calls and some inquisitive bowling to bring up his second Test double century in the first innings. Leading by 315 runs in the second innings, Labuschagne returned to the crease when Usman Khawaja was sent back in the fourth over, seeing off the rest of the third day alongside David Warner.
On the fourth morning, the overnight duo was greeted with some short-pitched bowling. Off the second ball of the 16th over, Joseph hurled a sharp bouncer at Labuschagne, but the batter managed to somehow send it to the fine leg fence with a top-edged six, a stroke that seemingly confused the man himself. The very next ball, Joseph sent down another short-pitched delivery.
This time, Labuschagne was late on the stroke,and possibly surprised by the extra bouncer, swerving his head away as he edged the ball to his helmet, the richochet ballooning it to the gully fielder. Joseph and his teammates began celebrating, and Labuschagne began his walk back, only for umpire Richard Illingworth to reveal a dramatic twist.
Based on third umpire Kumar Dharmasena input, Illingworth pointed out that Joseph had overstepped, leaving the touring side in visible disbelief. Replays showed that Joseph’s left foot had landed barely millimetres outside the crease, but enough for the third umpire to judge it as a no-ball. “Excruciatingly close, that,” said Adam Gilchrist on commentary, as Labuschagne received a lucky break.
The slip-up proved to be costly: Labuschagne, then on 19, went on to complete his fourteenth Test half-century. With Australia looking to declare, he stepped on the gas after ticking past fifty, and had completed his ninth Test century at the time of writing.
Watch Labuschagne’s lucky break:
Brute of a ball!
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 3, 2022