Marnus Labuschagne's superb fielding might not be enough to help him retain his place in Australia's XI for the semi-finals at the Cricket World Cup, despite two sensational run-outs on Saturday. Labuschagne was dynamite in the field against Bangladesh, dismissing Najmul Hossain Shanto and Mahmudullah with two brilliant pieces of work.
The Aussie star slid and threw in the one motion to send Shanto packing for 45, before diving head-first and affecting a direct hit to find Mahmudullah short of his ground on 32. Aussie legends Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden were in awe in commentary.
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"He's got wheels hasn't he? That's the key, ground speed, the way that he moves laterally is really important," Hayden said. "You cannot give enough credit to fielding efforts in World Cups, they just matter.
"They're like net run rates, they creep up on you and they always matter in the end. Wonderful piece of turn and throw, a quick 'spot the target' and a direct throw at the stumps, right beside the wicket-keeper as well. Superb."
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 11, 2023
Ponting later said: "It's awareness and attitude that separates the best fieldsmen to the guys that are just out there to stop the ball when it comes their way rather than wanting to get involved and wanting to make an impact on the game." New Zealander Simon Doull added: "He's been probably the best in the business for Australia throughout this tournament. He has saved runs , he has taken catches and he has just pulled off a special run out, great turn, great throw."
Labuschagne has played in every game for Australia so far at the World Cup after he was initially left out of the squad altogether. He received a late call-up when Ashton Agar was ruled out with injury, and found himself in the XI thanks to injuries to Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis.
Every time it looked like Labuschagne would be dropped he has managed to retain his place, with Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell missing the last two games respectively. But with a full compliment to choose from for Thursday's semi-final clash with South Africa, it looks like Labuschagne's time might finally be up.
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Sone would say his efforts in the field on Saturday make him undroppable because he provides a certain X-factor that others don't. But in a cruel twist, he was denied the opportunity to make one last case with the bat.
Slated to come in at No.5, Labuschagne wasn't required as Australia finished at 2-307 while chasing down Bangladesh's total with 32 balls to spare. The only other players who might be dropped when Maxwell comes back are Steve Smith or Marcus Stoinis - and Smith made a timely 63 off 64 balls on Saturday.
Stoinis missed games earlier in the tournament with a calf issue, and has only managed scores of 5, 20 not out, 21 and 6 with the bat. The brutal selection call might come down to whether the Aussies prefer Stonois' bowling or Labuschagne's fielding.
Working against Labuschagne is the fact he plays a very similar game to Smith, albeit at a slower pace. Many have suggested the Aussies can't afford to have both Smith and Labuschagne in the middle order because they struggle to maintain the high scoring rates provided by the likes of Travis Head, David Warner and Mitch Marsh at the top of the order.
Labuschagne has averaged 35.75 during the World Cup, but Smith's knock against Bangladesh took his average to 38.28. Tellingly, Smith is striking at 88.74 compared to Labuschagne's 77.08.
Marnus Labuschagne's fielding has been World class in this World Cup. pic.twitter.com/OgMWkS5X2C
— Mufaddal Vohra (@mufaddal_vohra) November 11, 2023
Absolutely. And it's not only about his fielding, he has been amongst the runs as well.
— Pritam Guha (@peezee31) November 11, 2023
Has to play ahead of Stoinis. Better fielder. Better batter. And bowls as many overs :P
— ArjsEye (@ArjsEye) November 11, 2023
It should. Also a far more dependable batsman than Stoinis, who has been given enough chances but continues to fail.
— Kevin Kline (@KevinKline90) November 11, 2023
— Tariq Khan Khattar (@Tariq_2427) November 11, 2023
🏏🌍 Marnus Labuschagne's fielding in this World Cup has been nothing short of sensational! 🌟🔥 His acrobatic moves have slammed the brakes on opposition scoring, showcasing world-class skills in the field. 🤸♂️💨Marnus, you're undoubtedly one of the standout fielders of this wc! pic.twitter.com/BGsdsHIL6h
— Syed Sami 🇧🇩 (@SyedFeed) November 11, 2023
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