Marnus Labuschagne's ominous Ashes warning after 'ridiculous' display
England would do well to pay attention to Marnus Labuschagne's form, after he single-handedly terrorised the Yorkshire bowling attack.
Just one day after Michael Neser turned in a hat-trick performance for Glamorgan in the County Championship, Marnus Labuschagne has batted an innings sure to send shivers down the spine of the England attack as the Ashes approach. Glamorgan were already in a strong position against Yorkshire courtesy of Neser's seven-wicket haul, but Labuschagne's powerhouse innings of 170 absolutely put the result beyond doubt.
It was an ominous innings from Labuschagne, who showed a mastery over the conditions at Headingley which Neser had exploited to terrorise Yorkshire less than 24 hours earlier. Patiently batting his way into the innings, with his first 50 coming from 108 deliveries, Labuschagne opted to go for broke soon afterwards.
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He required only a further 38 deliveries to bring up his hundred, his seventh for Glamorgan - and he wasn't done yet. After a somewhat shaky start to his County Championship stint with scores of 17, 5, 64 and 65, his eventual total of 170, including 16 fours, proved to be a major confidence boost.
Speaking after stumps, Labuschagne told reporters that this was the first time he'd felt truly at ease while at the crease after arriving in the UK. Glamorgan declared with a 491-run lead thanks to the combined efforts of Labuschagne and Neser.
“I have been a bit sort of all over,” Labuschagne said of his form in England. “It hasn’t felt like it has come together until that innings.
"I hit a few nice straight drives, a couple of nice cover drives and a nice flick through midwicket. That’s probably the most I’ve felt balanced at the crease, I felt like my head position was in a nice spot, my bat path was coming down nicely.
“For me it is taking it game by game and trying to build up that momentum that leads into the World Test championship and the Ashes.”
The best of Marnus Labuschagne's 170. Some shots in here that's for sure#LVCountyChamp pic.twitter.com/iLejmJ4XeM
— LV= Insurance County Championship (@CountyChamp) May 6, 2023
While none of Yorkshire's bowlers were spared by Labuschagne, it was spin bowler Dom Bess who copped the worst of his wrath. A veteran of 14 Tests for England, Bess had no answers for Labuschagne who belted 58 runs off his bowling alone, from just 41 deliveries faced.
Tellingly, his Glamorgan teammate Sam Northeast told BBC Sport Wales that England would need to be well and truly prepared for Labuschagne in the Ashes of his recent form was anything to go by. The 28-year-old has scored a combined 299 runs in his last three innings.
"He was almost ridiculous at times," Northeast said. "When he came out after tea and said he wanted to put his foot down, he did exactly that.
"He played some special shots. Unfortunately for England fans, he looks like he's in pretty good touch."
Marnus Labuschagne masterclass follows Michael Neser's hat-trick heroics
Test selectors are already facing a quandary regarding Australia's opening batting partnership, but will no doubt be buoyed by Neser's good form in English soil, with Cam Green having only recently returned from injury in the IPL. Neser was on fire at Headingley, finding a great deal of swing on his way to taking the wickets of Dawid Malan, George Hill and Bess in successive deliveries.
After trapping Malan LBW, Neser showed off just how much movement he was able to find by clean bowling both Hill and Bess. Neither of the two offered a shot before the ball cannoned into the stumps, such was the sheer amount of swing he achieved.
Just 11 players have taken a hat-trick for Glamorgan in their history in the County Championship, while Neser became the first to take a hat-trick in the competition since Robert Croft in 2010. Neser joked to Bess that it had been a 'pretty stiff' delivery to face on his first ball.
Speaking after the innings Neser said he was disappointed to not be included in the Ashes squad, but conceded all he could do was continue top put his best foot forward. His figures of 7-32 marked a career best.
"It's disappointing not to be part of that squad, but I've got to look at the positives," Neser told reporters. "I'm playing cricket here, and if I do get called up I'll get ready to go.
"Having matches under my belt is far more important than bowling overs in the nets and not playing any games. From a squad point of view, it's probably best I'm playing games and being ready to go if the opportunity arises.
"It would be a special moment if I was selected for the Ashes squad in the back half."
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