Justin Langer coaching allegations, Marnus Labuschagne, toasted sandwich storm, batsman responds

Marnus Labuschagne has leapt to the defence of Justin Langer after revelations the national coach berated him for taking a toasted sandwich on the field in Brisbane.

Reports have surfaced this week of disquiet in the Test team with suggestions players were growing tired of their coach’s intense nature in the wake of their humbling series defeat to India on home soil.

Labuschagne became the focus of one element of the stories after Langer addressed toastie-gate.

“I’m the grumpiest p**ck in the world because I told Marnus Labuschagne not to take a toasted ham and cheese sandwich (to the dugout) after his 40-minute lunch break,” Langer told the Cricket Et Cetera podcast as he vowed to do better.

The coach’s steely demeanour unified the national team following the controversial South African tour of 2018, but reports indicated his style of coaching was starting to wear thin inside the playing group.

But Labuschagne, who has become a core member the Test team during an up and down past 18 months, praised the national coach, adding now is the time for everyone to come together as Australia looks to move on from the disappointing India series.

“I love JL and I love what he brings to the team,” he said after the Brisbane Heat’s season-ending Big Bash loss on Thursday.

“There’s always more pressure when you’re not winning games. We’ve got to make sure that we’re really focused when we come back as a squad and make sure we stay really close to each other as a group and as a coaching staff. We need to keep supporting each other and backing each other.”

The road to recovery would have started later this month against South Africa, but the tour has been postponed due to COVID concerns in the region.

It means Australia may not play a Test until the Ashes later this year, with England set to gain a massive advantage with back-to-back blockbuster series against India coming up both home and away.

“It would have been a great contest, but the health and safety of the players has to come first. That’s the decision that’s been made, and that’s out of our control,” Labuschagne said.

“It’s very disappointing to not be playing Test cricket for so long. I don’t know what it looks like if there is potential to play some Test cricket sooner, but if not, you’ve got to make sure you get yourself ready for the Ashes because there’s no bigger series to get up for than an Ashes series on home soil against an England line-up that’s going to have a lot of Test cricket under their belt.

“I’ll just be focusing on my next game – it doesn’t matter who that’s for – and that’s the way I go about it. In these COVID times, I think you probably have to keep your mind shortsighted, rather than looking so far ahead.”

Labuschagne has also been touted as a potential captaincy candidate when Tim Paine steps away, and a push has begun to get the Queenslander in charge of his state team.

“That’s out of my control. I just try to be the best leader I can be,” Labuschagne, who doesn’t captain his state side, said.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the name tag or you don’t; for me, it’s just about learning and giving everything I have – my knowledge and experience – to the team.

“If I can do that and that develops into a leadership role – a formal one – then so be it. But for me, it’s just about making sure I can help the team out as much as I can and be a leader within the team.”

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Star batsman expects a last day BIg Bash explosion from Glenn Maxwell

Five balls could determine whether the Melbourne Stars make the finals or miss out, and Marcus Stoinis is happy to take responsibility either with the bat or the ball.

Last year’s Big Bash runners-up have to take down their conquerors from last season in an Australia Day showdown with the Sydney Sixers that could shape the entire finals series.

The MCG clash will be the last game of the regular season, giving both teams all the information needed to know what will be required to keep their title hopes alive.

The Stars, who have only missed the finals once in the previous nine BBL seasons, sit seventh on the table, three points out of the top five but with a positive net run rate in their favour.

The Sixers are second but could jump to first with a win and a Scorchers loss earlier in the day.

Losses in the past two games have put the Stars on the edge, but Stoinis said in any T20 game the difference between winning and losing could come down to the finest of margins.

And as his team’s leading run-scorer again this year, last year’s player of the tournament said he enjoyed the “responsibility” that could come with shaping those make-or-break moments for his team.

“In T20 it’s usually five balls with the bat and five with the ball that can change the game,” Stoinis said on Monday.

“It’s only little things. It’s never something big. It’s going to be important to stay calm and clear with what we want to do and look to take the game on. There’s no point playing safe.

“It’s all or nothing. It’s not the ideal position to be in. It’s still in our hands, we win this game, pretty much we go through.

“Personally, I enjoy the responsibility. You have to see it like that. Me batting to win the game, to take the game on, gives the team the best chance and myself the best chance to succeed.”

With just one run in his past two innings, Stars captain Glenn Maxwell needs to find his best. Stoinis said his skipper knew that.

“He’s one of the best in the world in T20 cricket. He’s every chance to come out tomorrow night and make 100,” Stoinis said.

“He’s as eager to do well as everyone in the team. He’ll be fine to put on a show.”

Stoinis said his team would “keep an eye” on the other final-round games that could determine the Stars’ future.

But the simpler scenario is the only one in his mind.

“None of it matters if we don’t put on a good performance. We just look after that. We are the last game, so we’ll know what’s going on when we rock up to the ground,” he said.

“Yes, it is a big game, but what an opportunity to put on a show, get a win, march into the finals and then see what you can do.”

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Trent Copeland Revealing ‘Batting Quirks’ As Steve Smith Is On His A-Game Again

Thrill surrounded the stadium as Steve Smith appears to have “found his hands” again at the SCG Test.

The Australian batsman star had a mediocre stint in the IPL this year before telling reporters he had found the said appendage ahead of the November’s ODI series against India. As presumed, they were at the bottom of his forearms.

It was evident in a couple of spectacular hundreds in that series, yet Smith’s Test form has been terrible leading in the SCG Test; where scores of 1, 1, 0 and 8 in the first two Tests represent the poorest run of Smith’s career ever since his early days as a leg-spinning, lower-order batsman.

That said, being back on his home court and in one of his favourite grounds, Smith looked back to be in his best form as he manoeuvres a seemingly perfect century after lunch on the second day of the Test.

Trent Copeland, speaker on ABC Sport during commentary, said a player like the former Australian captain usually has enough self-belief built up to emerge from a form slump.

He announced “The ability to distance yourself from failure is very important in cricket. Believing in yourself is half the battle. I think Steve having a Bradman-like history will lead him to believe more runs are around the corner.”

Much has been made of Smith’s peculiar tricks when he’s out at the crease, specifically after every leave or a blocked shot. However, Copeland went into detail about some of his habits which makes life for the 12th man a little tricky.

“To be 12th man for Steve Smith is …He has 40 pairs of gloves, seven or eight bats in one bag but another 20 I reckon in another kit.” He said.

“He waits until the last ball is bowled, a bit of a superstition, and then asks for the gloves, so you’ve got to be on. If you don’t have the right gear and you miss getting out there and he gets out, that’s big trouble.”

He even cited that most batsmen “do that with the naming of the gloves but nobody else has that many.”

In affirmation, Copeland concluded that it is what makes Smudge who he is and that he’s so different to most.

“He’s in his own little world. And he’s a wizard at the crease.”

(Image Souce: ABC News)

English batsman belts record Big Bash knock

Sydney Thunder opener Alex Hales says a renewed emphasis on footwork has paved the way for his stunning return to form with the bat.

The Englishman’s technique was exposed by balls that nipped back when he was bowled in consecutive games for golden ducks against the Heat and Scorchers, but that’s long forgotten following a couple of destructive knocks against the Melbourne franchises.

Hales bounced back with a fluent 35 against the Renegades on Boxing Day, but his record-breaking 71 off just 29 deliveries in his side’s big win over the Stars has put the rest of the competition on notice.

The opener smashed five sixes in the 75-run win, including a towering slog sweep off Adam Zampa that sent the ball flying out of Manuka Oval to bring up his half-century off a Thunder record 21 deliveries.

“It’s been a bit hit and miss so far for myself with a couple of noughts and a couple of starts, so to finally get that real matchwinning contribution – which is what you want from your overseas players – was nice to get that under the belt,” he said.

“As an opening batter you can get the occasional low score, but when you really get going, you know it’s going to be your night. That was one of those days when you really get in the zone and cash in.”

A simple change in mindset and a slight adjustment with his footwork has worked wonders for Hales, who is part of a Thunder top order that can’t stop scoring.

The men in green have set club record scores in their past two games thanks to Hales, Callum Ferguson, Usman Khawaja and Oliver Davies, and that trend will continue if their star import continues to fire.

“It’s just about getting through the first few balls,” he said.

“There’s been a little bit of swing and seam at the top with the brand new ball, particularly under the lights here where there’s definitely a bit of assistance (for the bowlers) in the first few overs.

“I’ve had a couple of nice balls first up and maybe I was a bit lazy with my footwork, so in the nets over the last few days I’ve tried to get my feet moving a bit better and being a bit more switched on for my first few balls.

“Once you get through that, the pitches are pretty good here, so you can look to cash in.”

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Star Indian batsman set to come in for third Test

India look set to inject another 2000 runs of Test experience in to a side riding high on one of the country’s greatest Test comebacks with Rohit Sharma expected to play in the third Test.

Sharma, who has scored three of his six Test hundreds in his last six innings, joined the Indian squad in Melbourne having served 14 days quarantine in Sydney after his late arrival in Australia due to injury.

His inclusion could come at the expense of opener Mayank Agarwal, who failed twice at the MCG, and leave as few as four players from the horror show in Adelaide for the third game.

Only captain Ajinkya Rahane, named Johnny Mullagh medallist as best player in the Boxing Day Test Cheteshwar Pujara and bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Ravi Ashwin are set to remain from a match that plenty thought would bring the tourists to their knees.

Instead, inspired by what coach Ravi Shastri called an “innings and a half” from MCG centurion Rahane, and inspired debuts from Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj, the Indians have grabbed all the momentum in a series now levelled 1-1.

“I said to (Rahane) that was not an innings, it was an innings and a half, it was brilliant,” Shastri said about Rahane’s match-defining 112.

“To bat six hours and back himself, in tough conditions with the lights on, was outstanding. And his captaincy too, he didn’t miss a trick.”

Shastri said he didn’t say much after the Indians were embarrassed in Adelaide, all out for 36, their lowest score in the history of Test cricket.

Rahane, who hit the winning runs off Nathan Lyon, said he too lead by his actions, and hailed the character of his team to dominate the Australians in their eight-wicket win in Melbourne.

“Character matters a lot,” Rahane told Fox Cricket.

“After that loss in Adelaide I thought character was really important going in to this Test match … and the way everyone played was really magnificent.

“Talk (before the game) was all about showing that attitude on the field, that intent, and character. It was hard for us with only four bowlers but credit to each and every individual to show that character and win this Test match.”

Rahane said they were “excited” about Sharma rejoining the team for the third Test.

The Indian team and Rahane also earned high praise from the man he’s filling in for, Virat Kohli, who lauded the victory.

“What a win this is, absolutely amazing effort by the whole team. Couldn‘t be happier for the boys and specially Jinks who led the team to victory amazingly,” Kohli posted on Twitter from India where he’s awaiting the birth of his first child.

“Onwards and upwards from here.”

Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar also said he loved the “resilience and character” shown by the team to move on from the loss in Adelaide.

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John Edrich: Former England batsman dies aged 83

John Edrich (centre) was England batting coach when Ray Illingworth (left) was in charge during the 1990s

Former England batsman John Edrich has died at the age of 83.

The left-hander played 77 Tests for England, making 12 centuries and finishing with an average of 43.54.

A Surrey legend, he made 39,790 runs from 564 first-class matches, including 103 centuries – one of only 25 men to score 100 first-class tons.

Edrich made his Test debut against West Indies at Old Trafford in 1963 and finished against the same opposition on the same ground 13 years later.

He top scored with 24 in the second innings of that final Test in 1976 as England were bowled out for 126 by West Indies’ formidable pace quartet and lost by 425 runs.

Edrich, who received the MBE for services to cricket in 1977, was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2000 but lived long past the seven years he was given at the time of the diagnosis.

His career-high innings of 310 not out was made against New Zealand at Headingley in 1965.

Edrich captained Surrey for five seasons and led England once, when Mike Denness dropped himself on the 1974-75 tour of Australia.

He compiled an unbeaten 33 in that Test, batting on after having his ribs broken by the first ball he faced from Australia fast bowler Dennis Lillee.

One of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1966, Edrich was renowned for his cut shot and was prolific through the midwicket area.

“With John’s passing, we’ve lost a prolific and fearless batsman – one of the select few who have scored more than 5,000 runs for England,” said Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board.

“His duels with some of the world’s best fast bowlers were legendary, and it’s a testament to his ability that his 310 not out against New Zealand in 1965 remains the fifth-highest Test score by an English batsman. He will be sadly missed, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

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Shane Warne under fire for calling Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara ‘Steve’

Australian Test legend Shane Warne has been caught up in a racism storm after referring to Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara as “Steve” during the first Test in Adelaide.

The Indian stalwart was given the nickname when he played county cricket for Yorkshire in England, and it was also raised by Warne and others during India’s last tour of Australia in 2018/19.

Warne referred to Pujara as “Steve” on the Fox Cricket broadcast numerous times during India’s first innings on Thursday.

Pujara has spoken about the nickname before and revealed it was given to him by English teammates because his name was hard to pronounce.

But it comes amid an avalanche of racist allegations being levelled at Yorkshire, first raised by player Azeem Rafiq, which sparked an investigation by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

This week Rafiq also filed a legal complaint against the club alleging racism and discrimination, and the Pakistan-born spinner‘s claims were backed by other ex-Yorkshire cricketers and staff.

One former Yorkshire employee, Taj Butt, also alleged that players called “called every person of colour ‘Steve’”.

“Even Cheteshwar Pujara, who joined as an overseas professional, was called Steve because they could not pronounce his name,” Butt told ESPN Cricinfo.

Warne’s comments earned a wide rebuke across social media and were labelled “unprofessional” and “racist”.

One fan wrote on Twitter: “Referring to Pujara as ‘Steve’ is: a) unprofessional, b) disrespectful, C) racist. Learn to say his name”.

Warne was also accused of being a party to casual racism.

In 2018 Pujara revealed the origins of the nickname, which was created by Yorkshire teammate Jack Brooks.

“Well, I would prefer Cheteshwar, but it’s difficult to pronounce so the guys have come up with Steve,” Pujara told ESPN in 2018.

“But personally, I would prefer Cheteshwar. Jack Brooks started off with this. He couldn’t pronounce my first name, so he was asking me what nickname do I have. I said I don’t have any.

“So they said, ‘We will start calling you Steve’. Initially, they started calling me “Puj”, but they have started calling me Steve again. It’s a good nickname, but I prefer Cheteshwar.”

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Veteran batsman comfortable his Test career is done

Shaun Marsh was out cheaply when the Renegades were all out for 60 against the Sydney Sixers last weekend(Photo by Steve Bell/Getty Images)

Shaun Marsh didn’t get or expect a phone call from national selectors amid talk of who would open for Australia against India in Adelaide.

The 37-year-old is arguably the most in-form batsman outside the Test squad having pounded three Sheffield Shield hundreds for Western Australia this summer.

Marsh even got the tick of approval from Australian coach, and selector, Justin Langer who said you should “never discriminate against age” and called the left-hander’s run-scoring “elite”.

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West Australian coach Adam Voges also said Marsh, who played the last f his 38 Tests in January 2019 against India, hadn’t retired from international cricket.

But Marsh, who will captain the Melbourne Renegades against the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash on Saturday in the absence of Aaron Finch, is content that his time in the Australian line-up has probably passed by.

“There was certainly no phone calls and I wasn’t expecting one either to be honest,” Marsh said on Friday.

“There were a few funny videos going around, I got a few from my mates back home. But there was certainly no phone calls from anyone.

“I’m 37 now, I haven’t played for Australia for a few years. I’m pretty comfortable with where I am, playing well for the Renegades over the next six weeks then getting back to WA and finishing off the season.”

But while he Marsh doesn’t expect to get back to the Test team, there are still new things for Marsh to experience in cricket.

He has captained WA in all forms, but has never skippered a T20 side in 187 games at both domestic and international level.

Marsh needs to find a way to help the Renegades bounce back from a horror last-start loss when the red team was bowled out for just 60 as they tried unsuccessfully to get a new 10-over bonus point.

That loss has been “put to bed” but Marsh didn‘t rule out doing the same thing again.

“Sometimes these things happen in T20 cricket. We learned a lot of lessons,” he said.

“Hopefully we don’t have to do it again. It’s a unique situation now, you can go for those points. It just didn’t work out for us.”

Marsh suggested a young player would move up the order to take the place of Finch opening the batting, with 18-year-old Jake Fraser-McGurk an option.

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Australia vs India 2020 | Rahul Dravid says tourists need a batsman to pass 500-mark

Boasting a classical technique, his half-century came off only 48 deliveries and featured nine boundaries, including some lovely cover drives.

Shaw, 21, averages 55.83 in his four Tests, while Gill, 21, boasts a first-class average of 69.74. He drew praise from Australian great Allan Border who said he was surprised the boy who grew up having balls thrown to him by hired help on the family farm had yet to make his Test debut.

India’s Shubman Gill was in form.Credit:Getty Images

“He is a serious player. I am surprised that he hasn’t already played. He has looked really good,” Border said on the Fox Cricket commentary.

Gill handled the Australian quicks well but played across the line to a skidding delivery from leg-spinner Mitch Swepson in his first over and was caught at slip approaching tea. It was Swepson’s only highlight in an otherwise largely miserable performance.

Gill could be a surprise Test weapon, coming after Dravid said the tourists needed Pujara or a top-order teammate to replicate his feat of 2018-19 if they were to have an “edge” over the host nation.


“Who is going to be our Pujara from last time? I’m saying [that because] Pujara scored 500-plus runs last time – you [are] going to need one of your batsmen [to do that],” Dravid said on a webinar in India.

“Either it is going to be Pujara himself – obviously, it can’t be [Virat] Kohli because he is not going to be there for the whole [tour] – but you are going to need one of your batsmen, at least in my opinion, over the four Test matches to get you something like 500 runs.”

On a farcical evening when a rain delay and then a lack of on-field urgency bordering on time wasting from both teams meant play did not finish until after 10.30pm, the tourists extended their lead to 472 with six wickets in hand. They were buoyed by unbeaten centuries from Hanuma Vihari (104 not out) and some late dash from Rishabh Pant (103 not out), the latter thumping 22 in the final over from Jack Wildermuth to reach three figures.

Seizing upon a weakened attack, the Indians needed Vihari in particular to find his groove – and he could be the man who delivers on Dravid’s declaration.

Fast bowler Mark Steketee had earlier replaced a concussed Harry Conway in the Australia A attack and had Shaw (3) caught at cover point. Shaw did make 40 in the first innings, coming off 0 and 19 against Australia A at Drummoyne Oval, but his poor footwork and willingness to chase deliveries outside off stump could be a major issue if he is to face Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins later this week.


On a day Will Pucovski was ruled out of the first Test because of concussion, and fellow boom youngster Cameron Green continued to be monitored after a sickening hit to the head on his follow through, Conway was removed from the rest of the A clash. He was hit while batting late on Friday night and was diagnosed with delayed concussion on Saturday.

Australia’s injury curse also extended to fast bowler Sean Abbott, who did not return to the field after tea because of calf tightness and was removed from the attack.

Indian team management confirmed batsman Rohit Sharma has recovered from a hamstring issue and will join the Test squad in Australia. Sharma, who could open, is due to arrive within days and will have a hard quarantine of 14 days in Sydney. He will then be available for the third and fourth Tests.

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Test batsman says interrupted preparation won’t harm cause against India

The Australian Test squad has more moving parts than anyone would like 10 days out from the opening clash with India, but batsman Matthew Wade has no concerns about them being ready for ball one in Adelaide.

Wade expects to move from Sydney to Adelaide to up his Test preparation after captaining Australia in the final T20 against India on Sunday night.

But coach Justin Langer is weighing up keeping some of his Test squad in NSW to play in a three-day, pink-ball clash against the Indians, which starts on Friday, to aid their preparation for the Adelaide showdown.

Wade doesn’t know if that’s his path, and with Pat Cummins away from the white-ball squad having a rest, Josh Hazlewood a “bit lame” after a full workload and Mitch Starc given leave after a family illness, the playing group is scattered.

But Wade said the template for a summer where adapting was key had been laid out when the Australian one-day squad came together just the day before completing a successful ODI series against India.

He said cricket in a COVID-19 world just meant being ready all the time.

“A few years ago we were really structured, we’d train and play and generally had the same guys around. Now we have quite a big group,” Wade said on Monday.

“I was in Hobart before this series and got shipped off to Sydney because of an outbreak. Things change so quickly, every day, every training session, you have to be ready to go.

“We’ve got plenty of opportunities to gel together, that won’t be an issue.

“We didn’t get together until the morning of the first ODI and we won that series. I don’t see any issues with guys being in different formats, in different areas, then coming together.

“We have plenty of time. We’ll be ready to go come the first ball of the first Test match.”

Wade will move from white ball to red and the shortest format to the longest over the next week.

But he said the two Sheffield Shield games he played in November allowed him the time in the middle he needed to be ready for the Test.

The 32-year-old said he wasn’t feeling the pressure of so much emerging talent in Australia, with the likes of Cameron Green earning a groundswell of support.

“There’s always pressure to not have a form slump whether you are 21 or 32. I don’t really look at it like that at all, I go out there and do my best,“ Wade said.

“Every game I play for Australia is one I didn’t think I’d get, and whether that is my last game or whether I play another 50, that doesn’t faze me too much to be honest. I am comfortable with the player I am and person I am.

“Every game I play there is going to be pressure on me to score runs, and there will be people saying to pick this guy. That’s been my whole career, I’m pretty used to it now.

“Some guys didn’t debut until they were 30. Yes, I am 32, and I’ve been around a long time, but I see myself as a completely different player. Matthew Wade the guy that played as wicketkeeper/batter is a completely different player to the one that has been playing the last three years.

“I almost feel like I restarted my career a couple of years ago. Age is always spoken about, and that’s the nature of the beast.”

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