Labuschagne focused on runs after captaincy snub

Marnus Labuschagne was touted as a future Australia captain but was not offered an interview by Cricket Australia, which appointed Pat Cummins captain and Steve Smith vice-captain; the Aussie No 3 is keen to play another starring role with the bat against the visitors

By Reuters

Last Updated: 03/12/21 10:22am

Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne is happy to focus on his batting role

Marnus Labuschagne was overlooked as a leadership candidate following Tim Paine’s resignation as Australia’s Test captain but the batsman said he is happy to focus on scoring big runs against Ashes foes England.

Though only 18 Tests into his career, Labuschagne was floated as a future captain by former players and pundits but was not offered an interview by a Cricket Australia panel, which named Pat Cummins as skipper and Steve Smith as vice-captain last week.

If Labuschagne’s pride was wounded, the 27-year-old hid it well when asked about the snub in Brisbane on Friday.

“No, I wasn’t disappointed,” Labuschagne told reporters. “I think there are two very good leaders and very good candidates.

“[Cummins] is going to do a fabulous job and he’s got plenty of support with Steve as his vice-captain and all the senior players of the group.

The 27-year-old South African-born star has a Test batting average north of 60, was the leading Test run-scorer in 2019 and bowls a useful bit of leg-spin too.

“My job right now is to concentrate on scoring runs consistently for Australia and I’m happy for that to be my role for now.

“You don’t need the title to still be a leader in the group.”

The 27-year-old (right) was touted as a possible captain after Tim Paine (left) departed but was not interviewed by Cricket Australia

A little more than two years on from the 2019 Ashes, Labuschagne has cemented himself as Australia’s No 3 and one of the world’s best batsman with a stratospheric average of more than 60.

He has come a long way since his first Ashes appearance, when he became Test cricket’s first concussion substitute at Lord’s after Smith was taken out by a Jofra Archer bouncer.

Marnus is VERY aware of the stats of the man he is ‘joined at the hip with’ ?#Ashes | @AlintaEnergy pic.twitter.com/prnLYSM3Kq

— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau)

December 3, 2021

Labuschagne was struck on the grille of his helmet by the second ball he faced from Archer but dusted himself off and scored an impressive 59 in Australia’s second innings, helping the tourists draw the match and preserve a vital 1-0 lead in the series.

While Smith dominated the drawn series with 774 runs, Labuschagne played an outstanding support act, notching four half-centuries to help Australia retain the urn in England for the first time in nearly two decades.

He has since racked up five hundreds, including a 215 against New Zealand, and looms as a major problem for England to solve in the series, starting at the Gabba next week.

“The target is on your back now that you’re scoring runs and that you’re a main part of that team,” added Labuschagne.

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