Memories of missed opportunities spurred on Marnus Labuschagne to his career-best 215 during the second day at the SCG.
Three times in 2019 he had passed 140 (185, 162, 143) before falling short of the double-century, but this time there was no mistake although the tension grew – in the crowd at least – as Tim Paine kept stealing the strike before Labuschagne brought up the landmark with one of his least convincing shots, edging Colin de Grandhomme to third man, cheered on by his parents in the crowd.
In this Test season – which has seen Labuschagne set a new record for the most runs by an Australian batsman in a five-match summer – he made 185 and 162 in the two Tests against Pakistan, caught in the gully in the first of those, then cleaned up by an excellent delivery from Shaheen Afridi in the other.
“He has sent me a few messages when I threw away a couple of my opportunities to get a double,” he said. “One day he said ‘there’s only five times in your life that you can make a triple and you threw it away today, well done’. I was like, ‘that’s a bit stiff’, but he’s been great. Even those small things, as a player sometimes you don’t realise that in the moment. Especially on a high score you are playing with a bit more freedom instead of realising the opportunity you do have.”
Labuschagne started the second day at the SCG on 130 and said that during the last six months, when his form has hit career-best level, he has found it easier to resume an innings after success the previous day.
“At times it has affected me especially when I was a bit younger it definitely did. I probably didn’t go on and make big scores enough. But over the last year, being able to really come back and it doesn’t matter what the situation of the game is, it’s just about making sure of my process and back to each ball and not getting too far ahead of yourself.”
Labuschagne was in action again at the end of the day when he was given the penultimate over which started with a drag down that Tom Latham pulled powerfully into Matthew Wade’s helmet at short leg. Wade remained on the field and then passed a concussion test after play, with the protocols meaning he will have another in the morning.
“I’ve been hit there plenty of times so I know the feeling, and it’s never nice when you’re the bowler – drag one down first ball right in the slot,” Labuschagne said. “Luckily he’s alright and everything is all good. It is never good to be the bowler in that circumstance.”