Marnus Labuschagne's brilliant moment before batting woes continue in first Test

The Aussie batter has remained sharp in the field despite a lean trot with the bat.

Marnus Labuschagne.
Marnus Labuschagne continued his fine form in the field despite his batting woes. Image: Getty/Fox Cricket

Largely overlooked amid the disastrous runout of Kane Williamson in the first cricket Test between Australia and New Zealand was just how brilliant Marnus Labuchagne was. Williamson was dismissed in calamitous fashion on day two in Wellington when he collided with Will Young while attempting a quick single and runout by a direct hit from Labuschagne.

Williamson was attempting to avoid a collision with Mitchell Starc, but ended up running straight into his own batting partner in the middle of the pitch. Labuschagne, who hadn't seen the collision, produced a brilliant slide before popping up and throwing at the stumps in one motion.

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His throw was absolutely perfect, and Williamson watched in vain as the ball cannoned into the stumps. While the majority of the cricket world was focused on the disastrous scenes for New Zealand, Aussie wicket-keeping great Brad Haddin was quick to praise Labuschagne.

As Haddin pointed out, it would have been easy for Labuschagne to clock off in the field and focus on how bad he is going with the bat. But the Aussie was as switched on as ever on Friday and pounced when the opportunity presented itself.

"He's always in the game there at mid-off," Haddin said. "You're always in danger when you hit the ball towards him." Some fans suggested it's almost worth having Labuschagne in the Test team just for his presence in the field.

Marnus Labuschagne's nightmare time with the bat

Labuschagne has come under heavy criticism after his batting woes continued on day two, with commentator Gerard Whateley suggesting the No.3 is 'totally lost' out in the middle. Labuschagne entered the New Zealand series under pressure having only made one century in his last 37 Test innings, and has only passed 50 on six occasions during that time.

He was dismissed for just one after facing 27 balls in the first innings in Wellington, before making just two in the second dig. In his last six innings he's made 10, one not out, three, five, one and two, and his career average has dropped from 60.82 to 50.20 in just 12 months.

Labuschagne admitted himself he was seeking to make changes coming into the first Test match in order to rediscover his form. However, Whateley claimed the batter went away from everything he suggested he would do.

Marnus Labuschagne.
Marnus Labuschagne failed in both innings in the first Test against New Zealand. (Hagen Hopkins via Getty Images)

“Labuschagne is totally lost. He is lost in his own head,” Whateley said on SEN Radio. “All the things he spoke about coming into the Test match, he didn’t do any of them. He was scratching around his mark, you couldn’t see him scoring.

“He faced 27 balls and made the one run and then he nicked off in the way that he has been. There are flaws in his game that will torture him because he speaks about being the perfectionist, but he needs the shrink’s couch at the moment to find his way through it.

“Once he gets out in the middle he is just consumed by it. All his idiosyncrasies are swallowing up the stroke player that we have seen when he’s been at his best."

Former Aussie quick Brendan Julian suggested the 29-year-old isn't himself out in the middle. "He looked very tentative didn't he," 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."

Aussie batters under fire over Test form

Labuschagne isn't the only batter searching for form in New Zealand. Steve Smith, Labuschagne and Travis were all dismissed quickly amid a Matt Henry onslaught on Thursday. 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.

Smith has struggled to step into David Warner's shoes since moving to the top of the order, but Cameron 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.

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