Labuschagne rings in anniversary with ton

Scott Bailey
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Australia New Zealand Cricket

Unbeaten centurion Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith batted New Zealand into submission at the SCG

Marnus Labuschagne celebrated the anniversary of his shock selection at No.3 with another century as Australia piled on 3-283 on the opening day of the third Test against New Zealand.

A year to the day since he was called in as Australia's No.3 against India with a first-class average of just 33.17, Labuschagne scored his fourth Test century in the role.

At the time, his first-class average was the lowest of any Australian player picked to bat in the position for the first time this century.

Now, his Test average stands at 62.61 and is the third highest in history, after he went to stumps at the SCG on Friday unbeaten on 130.

"It's been pretty special," Labuschagne said.

"This time last year I was sitting here and there were a lot of questions.

"I believed that I had the ability. For me it was a lot of mental stuff and just making sure I stayed focus for long periods of times.

"But I probably wouldn't have believed you (if you told me what was to come), it's been an amazing time."

Steve Smith also made 63, batting patiently before his pursuit of his first hundred for the summer was ended when he edged Colin de Grandhomme to first slip.

The pair combined for a 156-run third-wicket partnership, as Australia rammed home their advantage after having already wrapped up the three-match series in Melbourne.

Matthew Wade then hit a quick-fire 22no from 30 balls before stumps in front of a crowd of 36,420.

New Zealand in comparison endured arguably their most difficult day on a tour that has quickly become a nightmare.

Tom Latham was forced to take on the captaincy with Kane Williamson ruled out sick, while Glenn Phillips made his debut after only flying in from Auckland on Thursday night.

Spinner Mitchell Santner and batsman Henry Nicholls were also too ill to play as a virus swept through the group, while Tim Southee was overlooked.

With Trent Boult also nursing a broken hand, it left Neil Wagner and de Grandhomme as the Black Caps' only two bowlers surviving from the MCG,

Wagner (1-48) bowled well, taking David Warner's wicket for 45 and helping keep Steve Smith from scoring for his first 45 balls.

De Grandhomme (2-63) also got the wicket of Joe Burns, who edged to slip when on 18.

But Matt Henry took just 0-68 after coming in for Southee, while Labuschagne easily picked off their replacement spinners Will Somerville and Todd Astle.

The 25-year-old also played nicely off his pads, bringing up his hundred when he glanced de Grandhomme for four in the evening session.

In seven innings this summer Labuschagne has now just failed to reach 50 once - he was run out for 19 in Melbourne.

He's amassed 1105 runs at 85 since regaining his spot in the side when he replaced Smith as a concussion substitute in the Ashes in August.

Although New Zealand have shut down Smith and Warner in this series, they are yet to find an answer for the Queenslander.

"He's in great form. He lines himself up well. He plays the ball coming back in very very well," Black Caps coach Gary Stead said.

"We've had to try and come up with some different ways to try and attack him."