Why England need a player like Marnus Labuschagne
Dominic Sibley created a lot of buzz by scoring an impressive century against South Africa in the recently concluded Test between England and the Proteas. Joe Root and company won the match thanks to some remarkable performances by Ben Stokes, James Anderson and the centurion Sibley.
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There are a lot of reasons to be happy about that, but avid fans of English cricket will agree that the side still needs some stability in the middle. The brittle nature of the middle order was quite evident in the Ashes 2019, and also in the series against New Zealand. It is again being seen in the ongoing series against South Africa.
If we cast our minds back to the Ashes summer of 2019, we would be reminded of one man who performed beyond all expectations - Australia's Ashes debutant, Marnus Labuschagne. Labuschagne is exactly the kind of player that England's Test setup desperately needs.
The middle-order woes have persisted for a long time now, and the side has looked vulnerable on too many occasions. Root is a magnificent batsman but he isn't the most reliable choice in the middle. His conversion struggles are well-known among ardent followers of English cricket.
The team is in dire need of a run-machine who can anchor the innings consistently. Joe Denly is a positive player but considering he is 33 years old, age is not on his side. Denly has looked impressive in patches but he is yet to play a match-winning innings for his side; it is fair to say that he is far from cementing his position as the number 3 in England's Test setup.
Why a player like Labuschagne? The most striking feature about the 25-year-old is that plays conventional cricketing shots, but always treats the ball on merit. He may not be as technically gifted as Root, but he knows how to keep the scoreboard ticking through safe methods. In that respect, he is very much like Mike Hussey, the batsman who was a crucial component of many Aussie rearguard campaigns.
Labuschagne is one of the most consistent players in Test cricket right now. After making a mark by performing incredibly well in the Ashes 2019 series, he followed it up with commendable performances against Pakistan and then New Zealand.
The addition of Labuschagne to the Australian Test setup has brought a lot of stability to the side, something that England have been searching for in their team for quite some time now. Labuschagne has relieved some pressure off Steve Smith with his sense of maturity and level-headedness, and England need someone to do the same for Root.
Had this been the IPL, England would've emptied their entire purse to get Labuschagne, but sadly for them the man belongs to their arch-rivals.