Debate erupts over Marnus Labuschagne's 'selfless' move in run-out

Marnus Labuschagne sacrificed his wicket for the under-pressure David Warner on day two of the Boxing Day Test.

Marnus Labuschagne is pictured diving for his crease, as South Africa's Anrich Nortje hits the stumps, which are circled in red.
Debate has erupted among Aussie fans as to who was at fault in Marnus Labuschagne's run-out on day two of the Boxing Day Test. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

Everything can change in a single moment in Test cricket - as David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne have proven on day two of the Boxing Day Test. Debate has erupted among fans after a mix-up between the pair lead to Labuschagne being run-out for 14 early in Australia's first innings.

Labuschagne had barely beaten the ball to the stumps after a quick single, when Warner called him through for a second run on an overthrow. But Labuschagne had gone well past his crease in order to make the first run, and Warner had already committed to the second.

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In what ABC cricket commentator Kerry O'Keeffe described as a 'selfless' act, Labuschagne attempted to make it back, only for South African bowler Anrich Nortje to successfully complete the run-out. Warner, who has been under pressure to retain his place in the Test side, brought up his half-century a short time later in his 100th Test match.

The play sparked a massive debate online, with some arguing Labuschagne hadn't been paying enough attention, while others believed Warner was being entirely too ambitious by calling for the second run. It comes after South African captain Dean Elgar's run-out in their first innings sparked a middle-order collapse on day one.

"The most selfless thing we've seen in a long time," O'Keeffe said of Labuschagne's efforts to keep Warner at the crease. The opening batsman has not scored a Test century since January 2020, and entered the Boxing Day Test under pressure to keep is place in the side after notching 100 Test appearance for Australia.

"Marnus saw out of the corner of his eye how committed David was, and David thought about turning back and going to the danger end, yet Marnus said 'no, I'll go', despite the plight being completely gone for him."

Former South African bowler Shaun Pollock said the wicket was a gift for the visitors. "It's a real bonus wicket this, for South Africa," he commented. "Warner's running between the wickets is absolutely brilliant, with the intensity that he brings - but you have to everyone in the team on the same wavelength when they're running with him."

Australia's innings has been slowly building, despite losing opener Usman Khawaja for just one run late on the first day of the Test. Standout bowling from the likes of Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc saw the hosts take full advantage of captain Pat Cummins' decision to send the Proteas in to bat first.

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Green's efforts with the ball on day one, claiming his first five-wicket haul in his Test career, set the hosts up for a big first innings. After removing first drop batsman Theunis de Bruyn before lunch, Green was able to disrupt the century partnership between Kyle Verreynne (59) and Marco Jansen (52).

He claimed the wickets of both of South Africa's top scorers, before cleaning up the tail to prove the Mumbai Indians' $3 million bid on him in the recent IPL auction would be money well spent. After taking 4-7 in devastating final two-over spell, Green said it was nice to show what he was capable of with the spotlight on him. “That’s cricket summed up,” he said.

“You can have a really slow start to the summer and think cricket’s so tough and then you have a few days like this, and it brings you back. It’s probably still hasn’t sunk in now. It’s a very special feeling, and I’m sure I’ll remember that for a very long time.”

Cameron Green raises his fingers in celebration after taking a wicket.
Cameron Green took his first Test five-wicket haul in a terrific Boxing Day Test performance. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Green also earned begrudging praise for his efforts from South African batsman Verreynne. He said Green ability to extract extra pace and bounce when he joins the attack was something that could easily catch many batsman unaware.

"He’s a bit different to the other three guys,” Verreynne said at stumps. “Obviously he’s so tall, so he gets quite a bit of bounce … and I felt like he’s got the ability to shape the ball as well.

“He offers a bit extra there … they get to use him in short bursts, so he can just run in with a lot of energy, and as a batter, you’ve got to make sure that you’re switched on for those periods. It’s a luxury that they have.”

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