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News

'Why did I play at those?' - Labuschagne looks for Broad answers

Australia's No. 3 was happy to acknowledge Broad won the early round

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
26-Jun-2023
Marnus Labuschagne fell to Stuart Broad first-ball, England vs Australia, 1st Ashes Test, Edgbaston, 2nd day, June 17, 2023

Stuart Broad claimed Marnus Labuschagne twice in the first Test  •  Getty Images

Marnus Labuschagne believes the slowness of the Edgbaston pitch played a part in him being drawn into twice edging Stuart Broad during the first Ashes Test but while he is looking at some technical adjustments it isn't something he will dwell on for long.
Labuschagne nicked deliveries outside off stump in both innings - the first against the outswinger Broad said he developed especially for him and Steven Smith - with Australia's batting coach Michael Di Venuto saying he had never seen that happen before.
Labuschagne netted extensively at Lord's over the weekend in preparation for the second Test which starts on Wednesday, at the venue where his Test career took off in 2019, with the Sunday session watched by Ricky Ponting, the pair sharing the occasional word.
While he did not want to divulge everything he had learnt from his twin dismissals, Labuschagne put some of it down to the conditions although did suggest Broad may have out-thought him in the first innings.
"When you get out first ball you just throw it in the bag. Potentially I thought that they were going to come straight and then he got a nice ball that swung in the right area," he said. "With a lack of bounce at Edgbaston, it sucks you in to thinking you can hit the ball a bit more and I just made a few poor decisions [against balls] that were really wide. They'd be eighth or ninth stump, some of those deliveries.
"They were very uncharacteristic dismissals to how I've usually played, that's why I was pretty frustrated with myself to get out that way and asked myself the question, 'why did I play at those deliveries?'.
"I've come up with my own summation of what that is. Now it's if there's anything I can do tactically or technically to make sure it doesn't happen again. It's a rarity that I'd play at those balls so it's not something I'm going to overthink, but I hold myself to a much higher standard than those dismissals."
Labuschagne was happy to acknowledge the skill of Broad for having the better of him in the first Test. The only previous occasion he had been dismissed by him was the bizarre occasion when he walked across his stumps in Hobart and ended up flat in the crease.
"He's 2 and 0 now so he's done his homework," Labuschagne said. "That first [and only] ball I got in the first innings was a very nice ball. I haven't faced Stuart Broad where he's really been able to swing it away. He usually angles in, and that one definitely swung.
"First ball, most of the time you just play and miss at that then you go 'okay', you can make the adjustments out there. I said this about [R] Ashwin, guys who take the time to do the homework, understand the game, and work out how they're going to get certain guys out, I've got so much respect for them so if they're putting the time and effort in and it pays off, that's a credit to them."
On the flip side, Labuschagne was confident that he has the body of work to show he can respond to the challenge, which his batting coach Neil D'Costa had earlier told ESPNcricinfo was part of the "arm wrestle" that everyone enjoyed watching in Test cricket.
"I've tried to make my game as adaptable as possible, so I don't have one way of batting," he said. "Some people play their whole career and bat one certain way and have one method that works… I'm always working on my game and working on my technique to think of ways I can score runs."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo