The Queensland Bulls have finished the first day in a position of power at Townsville in their Sheffield Shield encounter against Tasmania, with star batter Marnus Labuschagne scoring his first century for the season.
Despite Bryce Street losing his wicket on 14 runs early in the day, a strong partnership from Labuschagne and Joe Burns put the Bulls firmly in the driving seat for the match.
The pair put on a partnership of 183 runs before Burns mistimed a sweep shot off Jarrod Freeman’s bowling, allowing the ball to ricochet off his pad, back off the bottom of his glove, and trickle onto the stumps.Embed from Getty Images
Usman Khawaja is back in red hot form, helping form a 74-run partnership with Labuschagne before ending the day with 63 runs, not out.
Backing up his 174-run innings against South Australia, another century could have Khawaja right back in the mix for a return to test cricket in time for the Ashes with doubt still clouding the batting lineup.
At the end of play, Labuschagne expressed his joy of batting alongside Burns and Khawaja.
“Both those guys are probably two of my favourite guys to bat with, both very different, but both very enjoyable to bat with, I thought Joe’s innings last week in Adelaide was a very good innings, he only got 48 but it was really good,” he said.
“Obviously Usman’s innings in the second was very good and today he’s backed it up, especially coming in and that late (in the day), he really put the pressure on the spinners and didn’t let them settle, which is really good for a number four to come in be able to do that away.”Embed from Getty Images
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Although Labuschagne was pleased with his score, he was also disappointed not to have gone further.
“I missed out on the first two games… I really found some rhythm out there today with my batting, I feel there’s always things to improve on, and things I wanna get better at, it was nice to contribute to the team and put us in a position where we’re driving the game.
“I’d much rather still be out there batting, I’m disappointed in getting out to that second new ball, potentially could’ve left that ball. I’m always asking myself, (what) ways I can get better.
“130 is a good score, you’re not complaining but you wanna make that into a big 180-plus score, there the sort of knocks that really put your team on the front foot.
“I certainly want to make big scores, it was nice to do it for Queensland today, and hopefully later in the summer I can contribute with some big scores [for Australia] as well, but as a cricketer, I don’t think anyone is ever really satisfied, [cricket is] just one of those games.”Embed from Getty Images
The Bulls command a strong stance heading into the second day of the match.
“The position we’re in now is a really good only leaving three wickets for 311 [runs], it’s a good start for us, we’re really trying to get some points and get a win, it’s nice to start a four day-er like [we did] today.
“There’s some nice bounce in the wicket, a little bit of turn in the wicket for the spinners as well, some good signs for us.
“There’s a few cracks there opening up as well as the day progressed, good signs for a couple young quicks debuting and Matt Kuhnemann to lock in and see if he can get some turn there later on day two.”
Labuschagne’s status as a cricketer has risen rapidly since replacing Steve Smith as a concussion substitute in the Ashes a couple of years ago and so many young fans were excited to see him perform in North Queensland.
“It’s a real blessing and a privilege to be able to be a role model and it’s something that puts a smile on my face seeing them [children asking for autographs] there and I remember being them and being super excited, coming to Shield games after school.
“It’s always nice, Townsville’s put on a really good show today with a lot of people, they should probably be at school, but it’s nice to see them at the cricket.”
Day two of the Sheffield Shield match between the Queensland Bulls and the Tasmanian Tigers will resume on Thursday the 28th at Riverway Stadium, Townsville at 10am local time (AEST).
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