Andrew McDonald says Marnus Labuschagne’s position at number three is safe despite a lean trot, as Australia prepare to give their top six batters an extended run in their slots in Test cricket.
Labuschagne, who made 19 runs at an average of 6.33 in the 1-1 series draw with West Indies, has made 1,005 runs in his past 35 innings at an average of 33.5, with just one Test century.
They are far from dire figures in what has been a mostly winning side, but well short of Labuschagne’s career average of 50.82. He also has 11 Test centuries overall.
Labuschagne was caught in the slips for three and five in the shock eight-run loss to West Indies at the Gabba by similar deliveries that left him around off-stump.
In next month’s two-Test tour of New Zealand he will face quality seamers such as Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson, who will no doubt test him with similar tactics employed by the West Indian bowlers.
McDonald said Labuschagne’s overall stellar record suggested he was due for several successful Tests and series.
“We have full trust and faith in the way that he goes about his preparation and innings,” the coach said.
“He has been undone by certain plans at times, so there is no doubt he will be looking into that. He will get busy and back to work.
“There is no doubt you are going to go through some lulls of form … but we expect him to bounce back.”
McDonald said there were positives ahead of the New Zealand series to come out of the loss at the Gabba, including Steve Smith’s unbeaten 91 in the second innings in his second Test at the top of the order, and a solid 42 by new number four Cameron Green.
Green was just starting to find his groove after a slow start when man-of-the-match Shamar Joseph dismissed him with a cracker.
“I think if you watched his innings at Shield and international level he can start slow, and that is something we are working on,” McDonald said.
“It takes him a while to get his movements in sync at times … but once he is up and going and moving well it is a pretty good sight.”
Travis Head, man of the match in Adelaide with a century at number five, bagged a king pair at the Gabba, but McDonald said the batting order would not be changed just because of one lost Test.
“Definitely not. We are not in the mood to change the batting order,” he said.
“We feel like as a collective that unit will be able to have success over multiple Test matches, and we will let that play out.”
Australia’s bowlers have got their batters out of trouble on several occasions this Test summer, but at the Gabba the talents of Joseph, with his stunning 7-68, prevailed.
“That is definitely an improvement area and there will be some batters that sit in the room that look back on the summer of a few missed opportunities,” McDonald said.
“Was it decision-making? Was it good bowling? That will all unfold. These guys have an appetite to improve the whole time.
“We see our batting unit as a collective. There are going to be people within that who fail at times and people who succeed.
“We feel as though with that order as it is they complement each other and we should be able to navigate through most situations.”
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