Marnus Labuschagne is currently struggling for form but Australian coach Andrew McDonald insists the No.3's spot in the team is safe. Labuschagne averaged just 6.33 in his four innings in the two-Test series against West Indies and his average this summer is currently his lowest since 2018/19.
However, McDonald says Labuschagne and the rest of the top six's spots are safe for the upcoming tour of New Zealand, insisting there is an abundance of faith in a side that has won the World Test Championship, retained the Ashes and won four out of five home Tests this summer. "We are not in the mood to change the batting order," he said.
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"We feel like as a collective that unit will be able to have success over multiple Test matches, and we will let that play out... We see our batting unit as a collective. There are going to be people within that who fail at times and people who succeed. We feel as though with that order as it is they complement each other and we should be able to navigate through most situations."
McDonald also believes Labuschagne's overall Test record suggests he is overdue for some big scores. "We have full trust and faith in the way that he goes about his preparation and innings," McDonald said.
"He has been undone by certain plans at times, so there is no doubt he will be looking into that. He will get busy and back to work. There is no doubt you are going to go through some lulls of form ... but we expect him to bounce back."
However, attention is firmly on Labuschagne's form as his Test batting average has dropped worryingly from 60 to 50 in the past 12 months. The No.3 has also scored just one century in his past 18 Test matches and has only passed the half-century mark on six other occasions. And despite the outward vote of confidence from his coach, some fans believe his position is under threat.
If we weren’t winning he would be under pressure.
He does t automatically deserve to be picked anymore
— BigRick (@BigRick555) January 27, 2024
At 51.41, this is the lowest Marnus Labuschagne has averaged in Tests since the start of the summer of Marnus in 2019 #AusvWI
— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) January 27, 2024
No one is talking about this Marnus Labuschagne's downfall in test
— Abhishek (@Abhi_Kohli123) January 26, 2024
*whispers* we're gonna talk about Marnus Labuschagne's poor form at some stage right?
— Pat McCaffrie (@PatMcCaffrie) January 26, 2024
Andrew McDonald says side must take positives from of West Indies defeat
The Australian coach says despite the shock loss to the West Indies, there were plenty of positives to take away from the game. Steve Smith's unbeaten 91 in the second innings of his second Test at the top of the order was a highlight, as was a solid 42 by new No.4 Cameron Green before he was undone by a jaffa from man-of-the-match Shamar Joseph.
"I think if you watched his innings at Shield and international level he can start slow, and that is something we are working on," McDonald said. "It takes him a while to get his movements in sync at times ... but once he is up and going and moving well it is a pretty good sight."
- with AAP
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