Marnus follows in footsteps of all-time greats with dominance in crucial No.3 role

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All the great Australian teams have had a dominant No.3 and with Marnus Labuschagne in this kind of form, they have that box well and truly ticked. 

Australia have got one eye on the prize of the World Test Championship next year and Labuschagne showed against the West Indies at Perth on day 1 with his unbeaten 154, that he belongs in the upper echelon of batters on the global pecking order. 

He was magnificent and with Steve Smith on 59 at the other end and the total on 2-293, the Windies could be staring down the barrel of a massive first innings target. 

Labuschagne reminds me a little bit of a right-handed Mike Hussey – a very busy, efficient player and aggressive runner between the wickets.

Actually, he’s like Mr Cricket on and off the field, although Huss is probably not as intense as Marnus can be. Mr Cricket did used to weigh his bat to make sure it was just right weight, though!

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Marnus Labuschagne of Australia celebrates a century.

Marnus Labuschagne of Australia celebrates a century. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

All the great Australian teams I played in had a guy at three who you knew you could rely on like David Boon and Ricky Ponting and if you look back through history, you can see a trend with run machines like Don Bradman, Neil Harvey, Ian and Greg Chappell setting the platform for some world-beating sides at first drop. 

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It takes the pressure off Smith at No.4 as well because the team’s chances don’t have to rest squarely on his shoulders. 

Labuschagne is in the right age group to possibly be considered a Test captain in a few years time after Pat Cummins has had his go but even if he doesn’t ever get an official title, he’s built up the respect from his teammates to be seen as a leader. 

Guys I played with like Steve Waugh and Ian Healy, even when they weren’t captain or vice-captain, they’d have their say at team meetings about tactics and everyone would listen because they commanded that respect within the group. 

Labuschagne got a hundred last summer in Adelaide but then the runs dried up for him a bit, by his high standards, after that in the rest of the Ashes, then over in Pakistan and in Sri Lanka until his 104 in the last Test in Galle. 

He came into this game ripe to score big after getting some Shield cricket under his belt. All the talk pre-game was about the adjustments Smith had made to get more side on in his stance but it was Labuschagne’s day.

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Early on he was patient after David Warner was out for not many – I assume he will get back in the runs very soon. 

Usman Khawaja was the perfect calming influence alongside Marnus in their partnership as they gradually accelerated. 

They let the ball go a lot. Khawaja’s 2022 calendar year has been phenomenal – he’s now made 953, averaging 95.3, after another half-century. 

It probably shows that throughout his career he should have opened more often, particularly on the subcontinent.

He can have troubles against spin but if you’re an opener and you’re set with your feet moving by the time the tweakers come on, it can make a huge difference. 

There were more than 10,000 fans in at the stadium, which is not a bad result for a Wednesday work day and they created a strong atmosphere at Optus Stadium.

It was nice to see Cummins being proactive at the toss by batting on a pitch with a green tinge, Over here in Perth if you can get through that first session without too much damage done as far as wickets falling, you can set yourself up for a large total and pretty much ensure you won’t lose the Test. 

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The ball swung early. Young Jayden Seales looks like a swing bowler with potential for the Windies and Alzarri Joseph in his first spell had his outswinger going and looked fast and bouncy.

After the first 90 minutes honours looked about even. 

I think Windies captain Kraigg Braithwaite erred by giving the ball to their spinner, Roston Chase, too early. Marnus and Uzzy knew they could run down the wicket and drive him or wait for half-trackers.

Chase was not a threat for their wicket and they saw him as a chance to plunder runs and it really released the pressure.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 30: Marnus Labuschagne of Australia bats during day one of the First Test match between Australia and the West Indies at Optus Stadium on November 30, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

(Photo by Quinn Rooney – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Kyle Mayers was impressive. He’s just a medium pacer but the ball jagged for him and he got Khawaja nicking off with a beauty. He was underbowled, didnt need to go to spin as much as they did.

Labuschagne didn’t miss a beat when Uzzy departed and Smith joined him at the crease and once he got his hundred, it was like next moment he’s up to 150. 

Overall the tourists were pretty good with their bowling attack and if all the chances had gone to hand they might have taken a few more wickets.

But the danger signs are ominous – All the Aussie quicks had gigantic smiles on their faces when they came out signing autographs at stumps. 

The Windies will probably be spending a couple of sessions in the field on day 2 while Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood put their feet up waiting for the chance to rip into their top order. 

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