'Don't think there's any great concern...', says McDonald on Labuschagne's form

by IANS |

Wellington, March 4 (IANS) Australia head coach Andrew McDonald said there are no great concerns over Marnus Labuschagne's lean run with the bat as a number three batter in the Test team.

Labuschagne has made just a single century in his last 20 Tests and has recorded four consecutive single digit scores in the format so far. McDonald has also been buoyed by the intent shown by Labuschagne in the second innings when he faced 13 balls for just two runs at Basin Reserve.

"I don't think there's any great concern from our point of view, in terms of we want the top six or seven batters to be performing as a collective. So, while the rest are performing around that and you're winning games of cricket, the concern levels are fractionally lower.

"Over time there's going to be some ebbs and flows in your career and I thought in the second innings … the intent and the energy he (Labuschagne) brought to the crease – and it was only two runs, so I don't want to get carried away – but that's what we see when he's at his best.

"We saw that at Sydney (against Pakistan) in the second innings, we saw that at Manchester (in last year's Ashes) where he had the intent to score and put it back on the bowler. Sometimes the conditions don't allow that, and you have to absorb a little bit more. But sometimes he under-values, even in difficult conditions, when he's showing that intent how much pressure he can put back on to the bowling unit of the opponent," said McDonald to reporters.

Wicketkeeper-batter Alex Carey also finds himself under pressure after making two half-centuries in his past seven Test innings and registering scores of 10 and three in Wellington, with both times involving him being caught at the cover region.

"They're going on at the moment. He's disappointed with that as a method to Glenn Phillips. He's encouraged himself to play off the back foot, it's an error in judgement. We're not going to hang him on one or two innings, over a period of time we'll see how that plays out," added McDonald.

He also felt Australia’s batting group can improve as a collective unit ahead of the second Test at Christchurch starting on Friday, after collapsing to 164 all out in the third innings of the Wellington Test.

"We feel like we can be better. We feel as though at times we have underachieved with the bat which has left games open and it's probably more particularly in the third innings of games.

"I think if you go back across the last 12 months, we've had some chances in the third innings to really shut out the opponent and we've left the door ajar at times and potentially we've probably been in a hurry to get to the total that we think we should get to and then get the game moving forward.

"In this game, we played some shots that were probably up tempo for what the surface was going to allow. But we encourage our players to expand and apply their own method. And then it's just about reviewing that at the end of the game. So we left the door slightly open but as we saw there in the context of this game, the surface was offering plenty and it was difficult to bat," concluded McDonald.

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