Having hit three back-to-back Test centuries at home this summer, Australia batting all-rounder Marnus Labuschagne was expected to make it a memorable Boxing Day this year but he ruined it, thanks to poor technique. The 25-year-old was bowled on as a result at 63, falling not too far off from what could have been his fourth century in the red-ball format on the trot. Labuschagne hit 185, 162 and 143 in two Tests against Pakistan and the first Test against the Kiwis before this game and Australia ended up winning all the games.
The experts and commentators were also left stunned to see the bizarre dismissal of Labuschagne whereby a delivery from Colin de Grandhomme deflected off his elbow and rattled the timber as the batsman tried to leave the ball. The 25-year-old was visibly upset with himself because of the way he got out after adding 83 runs for the third wicket with former skipper Steve Smith (77 not out) after visiting captain Kane Williamson won the toss and chose to bowl.
“Funny bone, but Marnus wouldn’t be laughing at that,” former Australia bowler and currently Channel 7 Commentator Damien Fleming described the bizarre scenario. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before as a dismissal.”
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Unsurprisingly, it takes a freak dismissal to send back the in-form Marnus Labuschagne! No 100 for him today.#AUSvNZ https://t.co/GDYmqTzenw
— ICC (@ICC) December 26, 2019
Boxing Day Test also had other significant moments. Smith, whose unbeaten knock remained the top draw for the day, had a confrontation with on-field umpire Nigel Llong while going for the lunch break, thanks to two controversial dead-ball calls by the later. Llong called two dead balls in the shadow of the break denying the home team two leg byes after both got deflected off Smith. Pacer Neil Wagner was the bowler.
Under the laws, a leg-bye can only fetch runs if the umpire is convinced a shot has been played or a batsman has tried to evade a ball. Llong felt on both occasions that Smith had left the ball and let it strike him rather than “try and avoid being hit”. It all happened during the closely fought first session when Australia lost 2 for 67.
The hosts ended the day at 257 for 4 with Travis Head accompanying Smith on 25. Grandhomme took two wickets while Trent Boult and Wagner claimed one each. Australia lead the two-Test series 1-0 after winning the first match in Perth by 296 runs.
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