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David Warner detail called out amid 'woeful' scenes for Aussie stars in first Test

The experienced Aussie batters continued some worrying form on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand.

David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith, pictured here in Test cricket.
David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith

Concerns are growing over the form of Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and Travis Head, while a glaring detail about David Warner has been thrust into the spotlight during the first Test against New Zealand. Only a stunning century from Cameron Green saved Australia's blushes, with the tourists making 383 in the first innings at the Basin Reserve after being 4-89 and 6-176.

After being sent in to bat first on a rather green pitch, Australia's batters struggled to score freely at first before falling into a hole and losing wickets in clumps. Smith and Usman Khawaja were tied down well by the New Zealand bowlers, making 31 off 71 and 33 off 118 respectively.

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When they were dismissed, they were followed in quick succession by Labuschagne and Head for one run apiece. It continued a rough run of form for the experienced Aussie batters, who have had a lean summer compared to their lofty standards.

Outside of a century at the Adelaide Oval against the West Indies, Head has only made it past 17 in two of his last 12 innings. He has made 1, 0, 0, 119, 10, 0, 17, 14, 40, 43, 4 and 1 in that time - a total of 249 runs at an average of just 20.75.

Marnus Labuschagne, pictured here after his dismissal against New Zealand in the first Test.
Marnus Labuschagne walks off after his dismissal against New Zealand in the first Test. (Getty Images)

And it's not much better for Labuschagne, who took 27 balls to score his lone run on Thursday. Things got even worse on Friday when he was dismissed for just two, which came after Smith went for a duck.

Labuschagne only has one century in his last 37 Test innings, and has only passed 50 on six occasions during that time. His highest score during the home summer was 63 and he made six single-figure scores. In his last six innings he's made 10, 1 not out, 3, 5, 1 and 2, and his career average has dropped from 60.82 to 50.20 in just 12 months.

" He looked very tentative didn't he," Brendon Julian said in commentary for Fox Sports. "He didn't really want to come forward and just sort of sat on the crease. He knew the ball was shaping but he was tentative. His front foot didn't really get down to the pitch, he was late with the bat coming down."

Australia's 'strange' display highlights David Warner absence

Kiwi commentator Craig McMillan described Labuschagne's innings as "strange" and said the Aussie top order were unusually subdued compared to when Warner used to open the batting. “Warner put bowlers on the back foot before they even bowled the ball,” he said.

“It is a different sort of line-up with no Warner at the top. I was surprised at how defensive Australia were. It was just a survival mentality.”

Fellow commentator Scotty Stevenson added: “You look at Australia and the aggression they usually bring. This has not been a runaway start by Australian standards, that’s for sure.”

Smith has struggled to step into Warner's shoes since moving to the top of the order, but Green showed on Thursday that he's made for the No.4 spot. The all-rounder faced 27 balls before getting off the mark, but played a stunning counter-attacking innings to get his side out of some trouble.

The 24-year-old finished the day's play on 103 not out - his second century in Test cricket - and went on to finish 174 not out as the Aussies made 383. Australia's total was way more than anyone could have expected thanks to Green's innings, which came amid piles of pressure about whether he should be batting at second drop.

"It was a pretty tough wicket out there. Someone just needed to bat through, and I'm glad it was me," he said. "It's always satisfying scoring runs for Australia. When you're not playing in the team it does make you stop and think how special it actually is to play for Australia. Sometimes you do forget that when you're playing so much, so it's nice to be back."

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