Marnus Labuschagne has been praised for his “selfless” act that looks to have saved the Test career of David Warner.
A mix-up between the wickets saw Labuschagne sacrifice himself for Warner – who was badly out of form heading into the Boxing Day Test – on day two at the MCG.
But the Australian opener made the most of Labuschagne’s selflessness and went on to score a drought-breaking century in his 100th Test.
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Warner punched South African paceman Anrich Nortje through cover for a straightforward single, before an overthrow saw him call a second run.
Labuschagne wasn’t expecting the second and initially sent Warner back but then committed after realizing how far his partner was down the wicket.
Labuschagne dived at the non-striker’s end but a strong throw from Keshav Maharaj ran him out by half a meter as Warner hung his head at the other end.
“Oh he sends him back, there’s real trouble here,” Mark Howard said on Fox Cricket.
“Labuschagne looks like he’s got a problem, that’s the end they went to, they were almost shaking hands in the middle and I don’t think it looks good for Marnus.”
South African great Shaun Pollock praised Labuschagne’s selflessness but emphasized teammates must match Warner’s intensity between the wickets.
“He’s filthy, both his clothes and probably in his mind at this stage. It’s a real bonus wicket for South Africa,” Pollock said.
“Warner’s running between the wickets is absolutely brilliant, the intensity that he brings, but you have to have everybody in the team on the same wavelength when they’re running with him.
“It’s difficult to get people on that mindset… We used to have the same problem with Jonty Rhodes.
“Every once in a while you need to remember it’s a cricket match and not an athletics event.
“It’s given South Africa a wicket they so desperately required and given them a little bit of momentum.
“You can see how distraught Labuschagne is, 14 runs, felt like he was getting himself settled but he has to be on his way.
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“Very unselfish, 100th Test match for David Warner and Labuschagne decided I’ll take the risk, I’ll be the one that might have to scuttle and put the dive in to try and get home.”
Kerry O’Keeffe echoed the sentiment as Fox Cricket revealed nobody has been run-out more than Labuschagne (five times) since his Test debut in October, 2018.
“The most selfless thing we’ve seen in a long time,” O’Keeffe said.
“He realized out of the corner of his eye how committed David was, and David thought about turning back and going to the danger end and Marnus said no I’ll go, despite being completely gone for.
“There has been some freneticism about his running, he’s always looking to turn one into two and he thought there was two immediately, he realized too late that Marnus had overcommitted past the crease.
“Sometimes frenetic running between the wickets, trying to pinch the extra, can undo you and it has there.”
Warner was criticized on social media and barely celebrated bringing up his 50 in the following over.
But the 36-year-old celebrated wildly after lunch when he made his first Test century since January, 2020.
“100 in his 100th. The ultimate innings from the ultimate fighter,” Mark Howard said on Fox Cricket.
“David Warner at the MCG, a 25th Test ton. Well beat to the Bull.”
Warner became the eighth Australian men’s cricketer to pass 8000 runs and the fifth batsman to pass 5000 runs on Australian soil.
He also overtook Mark Waugh in seventh spot for most Test runs by an Australian.
When he reached his ton, Warner became just the second Aussie batter – and the 10th overall – to score a century in their 100th Test.
Most remarkably, he became the first player in Test history to score at least three hundreds at the five major Aussie venues: The MCG, SCG, Gabba, WACA/Optus Stadium and Adelaide Oval.
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