Australian coach Andrew McDonald backs Marnus Labuschagne after lean Windies series

Australian coach Andrew McDonald backs Marnus Labuschagne after lean Windies series
  • PublishedJanuary 29, 2024

There won’t be any knee-jerk reactions to Australia’s first loss to the West Indies in 27 years, with the top-six batters to remain in place for next month’s tour of New Zealand.

That includes Marnus Labuschagne remaining at No.3 despite averaging just 6.33 in the two-Test series as the home team was undone by the sort of pace that Pakistan failed to muster earlier in the summer.

Across the five Tests, only David Warner and Travis Head made centuries, with Labuschagne faring the worst of the top order, making just 19 runs in four innings against the West Indies.

Captain Pat Cummins refused to blame the batters for the eight-run defeat in Brisbane, conceding the wickets this summer “have been tougher to score runs on than perhaps in the past”.

But coach Andrew McDonald said there was enough faith in an outfit that won the World Test Championship, retained the Ashes and won four out of five home Tests this summer to stick with them against the Kiwis and for the foreseeable future.

“We’re not in the mood to change the batting order. We feel like as a collective that that unit will be able to have success over multiple Test matches,” McDonald said after the loss in Brisbane.

“There’ll be some batters that sit in the room that potentially look back on the summer and there’s a few missed opportunities there. Was it decision-making, was it good bowling? That’ll all unfold. These guys have got an appetite to improve the whole time and you guys witness that.

“I suppose if you look at the irony of it all, the question marks were on Steve Smith and Cameron Green and they were our two best-performed batters (on Sunday). But we see our batting as a collective.

“There’s going to be people that fail within that at times, there’s going to be people that succeed. It’s all hands on deck, but we feel as though that order with the way it is, they complement each other.”

Attention is firmly on Labuschagne whose Test batting average has dropped from 60 to 50 across the past 12 months, having scored just one century in his past 18 Test matches.

During that time, he’s only passed 50 on another six occasions, but McDonald is confident the 29-year-old will rediscover his best.

“I think the positive within that (is that) the law of averages suggests that he’s due for a couple of bumper Test matches and series, so we’ve got trust and faith in the way that he goes about his preparation, the way he goes about his innings,” McDonald said.

“He’s been undone by certain plans at times, so there’s no doubt that we will get into that. We’ve got full confidence in his ability to rebound. He’s a quality player.

“There’s no doubt that you’re going to go through some lulls of form if you want to call it that.”

McDonald also endorsed new No.4 Cameron Green after his reinclusion to the side began with some teething issues at the Gabba before he found his fete with a second innings score of 42, second only to Smith in the failed run-chase.

“I think if you’ve watched his innings at Shield and international level, he can start slow,” McDonald said.

“That’s something he’s working on. It takes him a while to get his movements in sync at times, but that’s no different to any other batter.

“But once he’s up and going, and moving well, it’s a pretty good sight.

Green, Labuschagne as well as Head – who made a king pair in Brisbane – are all part of the one-day squad to confront the Windies in a series beginning on Friday, giving them more batting time ahead of the Test tour.


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