21/02/2024

Marnus Labuschagne reaches another Test half century. Image: cricket.com.au

Australian star batsman Marnus Labuschagne has declared himself fit for the Boxing Day Test, despite undergoing scans after copping a blow to the hand.

The classy run-scorer copped a searing delivery from Pakistan debutant Khurram Shazad whilst batting in Australia’s second innings on the Optus Stadium surface that gradually began behaving unpredictably, due to the cracks.

Speaking to the media, the 29-year-old said he was nervous about the injury, having endured many finger blows over the course of his career.

“But it just felt a bit different,” Labuschagne said when talking about the level of pain.

“But overnight it was a little bit sore, but this morning’s fine.”

Travis Head went through a similar finger injury during Australia’s white-ball tour of South Africa, fracturing his left hand from South African pace bowler Gerald Coetzee, which kept him out of action for six weeks.

“I mean, I wasn’t really necessarily thinking about Travs’ finger hit. But I definitely was, it just got me in a bit of an awkward position spot there was no padding on that side of the glove.

“Got me sort of underneath and jammed it, so it just didn’t feel that good. But actually, I’ve got some really goof range in it so all good,” Labuschagne said.

After easy batting conditions on the opening two days, the pitch became harder to score on, with the hot Perth weather playing a role in the creation of cracks opening up on the wicket.

When asked about whether it is the hardest test surface he’s played on, Labuschagne says it is difficult to assess.

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“It’s a really tough one to answer because there’s so many different ratings,” Labuschagne said.

“I mean you go to the pitch in Indore, India (where Australia played India in one of the four tests earlier this year), the ball is spinning, six, seven degrees on day one. So that’s pretty difficult.

“Well in terms of up and down, I mean they’re probably the closest with the Test Championship Final. And that was pretty severe up and down.

“But it sort of got better as the game went on.”

As for his preparation in the lead-up to the Boxing Day Test, Labuschagne said he’ll fly home to Brisbane to get a few practice sessions in, before joining the squad on the 23rd.

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