Labuschagne ton not enough for T20 breakthrough

By Sports Desk September 03, 2020

Marnus Labuschagne will have to wait for his T20I debut despite displaying scintillating form in Australia's warm-up for the three-match series against England.

Labuschagne enjoyed a breakthrough series at the highest level last year in England when he starred as Australia retained the Ashes with a 2-2 draw over the course of the five-match rubber.

The 26-year-old has since become a fixture in his country's 50-over side and made a compelling case for honours in the shortest format by blasting 100 off 51 deliveries during Tuesday's intra-squad warm-up game at the Rose Bowl.

However, skipper Aaron Finch is set to remain in situ with David Warner at the top of the order, with Steve Smith settled at three, when the series opener takes place in Southampton on Friday.

"We're pretty settled with how we structure our T20 side at the moment," Finch told a pre-match news conference.

"He played nicely the other day, but I think he might have to wait a little bit longer in T20 cricket.

"He's had an opportunity to bat at the top of the order and he hits the ball in the middle of the bat more often than most other players and hits the ball in the gaps so that's a pretty good recipe for T20 cricket and all cricket.

"He played beautifully the other day for a hundred, it was a great knock."

Although elite sport behind closed doors has swiftly become the new normal in 2020, the prospect of one of sports' oldest rivalries being played out before empty stands is certainly set to jar a little.

Nevertheless, with England recalling Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Sam Curran following their exertions in the Test team, Finch expects a familiar edge to be present.

"The England-Australia rivalry is always huge, regardless of who you’re playing in front of or where you're playing," said Finch. "I think you could play it in the street and it'd still be there. It's just a great rivalry.

"The fact the stands are going to be empty will be a bit different. I think a few of our guys will appreciate it a little bit more than others, but at the same time we’ve probably spent 90 per cent of our careers playing in front of no one, from club cricket, junior cricket, even state cricket at times, so it doesn't change too much."

The last time the sides met in white-ball cricket was in last year's World Cup semi-final, when England stormed to an eight-wicket victory at a typically raucous Edgbaston.

"They blew us out of the water," Finch, who was trapped lbw by Archer for a first-ball duck, recalled.

"It was a tough day, but a different format, so we aren't holding any scars over that."

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