Brisbane, Jan 29: Former Australia spinner Steve O’Keefe has raised questions over Marnus Labuschagne’s significant lean patch in Test cricket, and has called for the top-order batter to step up in future assignments.
Labuschagne had a horrid time in Australia’s drawn 1-1 Test series against the West Indies, making just 19 runs in four innings. Moreover, he has scored just one century and six half-centuries in his last 18 Test matches.
“I think the big question at the moment that this Australian cricket team has at the moment is the numbers three and four, in particular, Marnus. He got knocked over by Alzarri Joseph with a rising steeping bumper, which you could forgive him for in the first innings but it was the second innings.”
“It was almost the identical dismissal, but it was against (Joseph) Greaves who was bowling 120 (km/h). I’m not sure what’s quite off with Marnus at the moment but it’s been quite a significant lean patch, he has got some back-to-back 60s this summer.”
“You need your three and four to be bankers, when your four is Cameron Green who you’re trying to encourage to get into this system you really need your three to stand up and step forward,” said O’Keefe on SEN Radio.
After the second Test ended, where West Indies scripted an unforgettable eight-run win over Australia at The Gabba, head coach Andrew McDonald said to reporters that he was confident of Labuschagne to rediscover his best form with the bat.
“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.’
“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.”
Australia’s next Test assignment is a two-match series against New Zealand, starting on February 29. O’Keefe felt Steve Smith has brushed aside concerns over his life as a Test opener, from his 91 not out at The Gabba against the West Indies.
“I think we’ve answered the Steve Smith (question). On any other given day that 91 (not out) is a match-winning (performance), it’s a man-of-the-match performance. He nearly gets a 100 and brings Australia home but that wasn’t the script.” (IANS)