Marnus Labuschagne is officially the best batter since Sir Donald Bradman, but this crazy statistic proves he’s received a helping hand.
Since he replaced Steve Smith as a concussion substitute in the 2019 Lord’s Test, Marnus Labuschagne has been a marvel in the Australian Test side — his batting record is bettered only by the legendary Sir Donald Bradman.
The Queenslander averages 62.14 after 20 Tests, cracking six centuries and 12 fifties since August 2019. In comparison, Bradman had only managed 15 scores greater than 50 at the same stage of his Test career — admittedly, most of those were converted into big hundreds.
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Labuschagne, who currently sits second on the ICC Test batting rankings behind England captain Joe Root, has scored at least 47 runs in the first innings of all 14 Tests he’s played since Lord’s 2019.
He’s statistically Australia’s best No. 3 since Bradman (minimum five innings), averaging 72.91 from first drop.
“It’s a special feeling,” Labuschagne told reporters last week after being informed he’s officially the best since Bradman. “But a couple of nick-offs and I’m right to the back of the pecking order.
“The personal performances and accolades are nice, but I just think about trying to score as many runs as possible each innings to put us in positions to win games.”
Labuschagne’s numbers are absurd, and cricket pundits are questioning how long the 27-year-old’s purple patch will last.
But as we all know — there are lies, damned lies and statistics.
Speaking on the ABC Grandstand podcast, former Australian opener Ed Cowan suggested that Labuschagne’s Test numbers have been boosted by some sloppy fielding.
He revealed that the Australian No. 3 had already been dropped 14 times in his 20-Test career, while he’s been dismissed caught on just 12 occasions.
“He is the luckiest Test batsman there is in history so far statistically,” Cowan said.
“Obviously he gets the runs. We are huge Marnus fans on this podcast.
“But he has been caught 12 times and dropped 14 times, which is just insane.
“And you make your own luck sure, but my word that is basically getting an extra hit every Test match.
“He is a tough bugger. He batted superbly this Test. He knows his game.
“He knows how to adapt in different conditions. He has got a strong technique. He has got a strong mind.”
Highest Test batting average for an Australia No. 3 batter
103.63 — Sir Donald Bradman
72.91 — Marnus Labuschagne
69.44 — Stan McCabe
67.07 — Steve Smith
* Minimum five Test innings
For example, England missed several chances to end Labuschagne’s 305-ball marathon during last week’s day-night Ashes Test in Adelaide. Early in the afternoon session of day one, a pull shot narrowly evaded Stuart Broad at square leg, with the ball missing the bowler’s outstretched arm by less than a metre.
About 10 minutes later, the Queenslander gloved a short ball down the leg-side, and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler put down a chance diving to his left.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes rattled him again after the dinner break – a bouncer was edged onto Labuschagne’s shoulder, which ballooned into the air before landing safely on the deck inches from a diving Buttler.
And with less than half an hour remaining in the day, veteran seamer James Anderson found the outside edge of Labuschagne’s bat with a delivery that pitched short of a good length outside off.
Buttler grassed a regulation chance that he would have swallowed 99.9 per cent of the time, gifting Labuschagne yet another reprieve on 95.
The farcical scenes continued on day two — England seamer Ollie Robinson delivered a peach to Labuschagne early in the first session, with the pink Kookaburra nipping away from the lunging right-hander just enough to catch the outside edge. Buttler made no mistake behind the stumps on this occasion.
Labuschagne was two metres from the boundary rope when on-field umpire Paul Wilson stuck out his right arm, confirming that Robinson had overstepped the popping crease.
Loud jeers echoed around Adelaide Oval as the Australian No. 3 made his way back into the middle – he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
Labuschagne was eventually dismissed for 103 and received Player of the Match honours for his patient, albeit fortuitous, knock.
“When you’re batting well, you make your own luck as well,” Australian teammate Steve Smith told cricket.com.au.
“He’s batting exceptionally well and his processes are just outstanding at the moment. He’s got it down to a tee how he wants to play at the moment.
“He’s composed, calm and doing a terrific job and has been for a couple of years now. Really pleased he was able to get a hundred.
“He wants to go out and score runs pretty much every day. He bats probably just as much as me, if not more in the nets. He absolutely loves it. He’s someone that wants to improve and get better, and he thinks a lot about the game.
“I’m not surprised to see the results he’s been getting. He’s just batting really well. He’s got great processes in place and he’s sticking to them under pressure. He’s playing exceptionally well, and long may that continue.”
Australia defeated England by 275 runs in Adelaide to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series. The third Ashes Test gets underway on Sunday, with the first ball scheduled for 10.30am AEDT.