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England were not happy with my request to change the ball: Marnus Labuschagne

Last updated on 23 Jul 2023 | 05:54 AM
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England were not happy with my request to change the ball: Marnus Labuschagne

The Australia batter scored his first Test century of the year to take his side closer to securing a draw at Old Trafford

"You could feel it straightaway… it was a harder ball, and the seam was a little bit bigger," Marnus Labuschagne stated when he asked umpire Nitin Menon to change the ball, which left England bemused.

Labuschagne brought up his century - his first of the year - to keep England at bay as they ended Day Four on 214 for 5, trailing Australia by a further 61 runs with Mitchell Marsh (31*) and Cameron Green (3*) at the crease. 

"They weren't happy! They weren't happy that I wanted to have a look at the ball," Labuschagne said. 

"In this country, it's pretty clear: if you look at the ball once you can tell straightaway what it's going to do. I looked at the ball and was like, 'Well, this is going to swing' and I threw it back. They were obviously not very happy with that.

"I said it to Ben out there. 'Why do you want to look at the ball?' he asked me. 

"I said, 'To see if it's going to swing.' Jimmy Anderson, first ball he bowled to me, big inswinger. It just helps you prepare. The ball before was reversing slightly. It's just being meticulous. For me, it was pretty common sense: why would I not want to have a look at the ball?"

Labuschagne is perhaps the only Australian batter who has negotiated Mark Wood successfully. He has faced 106 deliveries from the pacer and has not been dismissed even once, unlike the previous Ashes series, where Wood got the better of Labuschagne thrice. 

Speaking of his effort, Labuschagne said, "A lot of my stuff I [put down] to technique. 

"I feel like my game is in a really good space to be facing him, the technical changes I've made. It allows me to make really good decisions and get into positions to be able to either pull, duck, leave, sway. I think the key to batting is having as many options as you can for a delivery."

While the Australia batter put pressure back on the bowlers with spinners bowling in tandem due to poor light. Labuschagne in fact smashed back-to-back sixes to ease the pressure on him and his side, but Joe Root eventually dismissed him, caught behind for 111.

 "If we end up saving the match then it'll be a pretty good moment but until then it's sort of sitting on the edge," he said. 

"It's always a privilege to score a Test hundred and you have to recognise that, it is special. But currently, sitting here, it's still a bit bittersweet with the circumstances of the game."

If Australia manage to draw the Test, they would retain the Ashes, regardless of what happens in the final Test at The Oval.

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