Brian Lara has accused West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite of failing to respect Marnus Labuschagne after the Aussie batter took the tourists to task on the opening day of the first Test in Perth. Labuschagne went to stumps at 154 not out as Australia finished the day at 2-293.
Labuschagne featured in century stands with both Usman Khawaja (who made 65) and Steve Smith (59 not out). As for the West Indies, their once feared pace attack lacked any venom on a green Optus Stadium wicket with plenty of grass left on to counteract the heat.
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West Indies legend Lara was left gobsmacked by Brathwaite’s tactics throughout Labuschagne’s innings. The skipper still had four slips in place midway through the final session on Wednesday.
“That’s a field you would have to a guy in the first hour of his innings,” Lara said in commentary for Channel 7. “Maybe a bit more respect for the guy who’s seeing the ball, he’s on a big score.”
West Indies coach Phil Simmons said he felt his team was unlucky. He said: “I think the first two sessions were good from a point of view they didn’t get away.
“We were still getting chances and were still putting them under pressure. In the last session, a few too many runs leaked. It makes the day look bad. But the first two sessions were good sessions.
“Some of the balls that were bowled today that missed the bat, nine out of 10 times they would hit the edge or something like that. To me it was just one of those days. We bowled well in spurts but we didn’t get the breaks.”
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Labuschagne’s highest Test score is 215, scored against New Zealand in the Sydney Test in 2020. Speaking after the opening day’s play, the 28-year-old said he was keen to notch the second double century of his career.
“Whenever you’re not out overnight on 150, the next stop is 200,” Labuschagne said. “If I’m able to stick to the process long enough … I’m sure I’ll get there.
“But put that out of your mind, you’ve just got to take it ball by ball. If the 200 does come, that’s great. But more importantly, it’s just trying to get as many runs as we can in this first innings and put the pressure on the West Indies.”
The Queenslander said he had no troubles making the switch to white ball cricket after featuring in the recent three-match ODI series against England.
“I grew up on red-ball cricket,” Labuschagne said. “Dating back to our under 19s tournaments, it was red ball. I grew up in that space.
“I think that comes more naturally to me – going back to my roots. For someone like Davey (Warner) who came through the white-ball system, he tends to hit a lot more coming into red-ball cricket, because he’s got to go the other way.”
The West Indies actually made a bright start on Wednesday, with David Warner bowled by Jayden Seales (1-63) for just five. Alzarri Joseph was also rushing batsmen and had them on the back foot.
But Labuschagne and Khawaja then took over and dominated the Windies attack. Smith then took up the mantle after Khawaja fell, making the most of some recent technical changes to his technique.
“The ability to start your series well and getting runs in that first one or two games just changes the whole dynamic of your series,” Labuschagne said. “It gives you confidence, it gives you that ability to trust your game, you are really in-tuned with your process, you understand how you’re playing.
“I always try and make a really concerted focus on every game, but specifically the first game of a series to get runs on the board. It sets it up for the team, but can also set you up for the summer.”
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