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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Ian Chappell says Marnus Labuschagne has been ‘extremely lucky’ this summer and warns the tide could turn

Australian cricket legend Ian Chappell says Marnus Labuschagne could yet face the biggest challenge of his career when his run of good fortune comes to an end.

Labuschagne made his first century of the summer on day one at the Gabba, but has been a consistent scorer at number three for Australia throughout the series — but not without some good fortune.

He has been dropped on five occasions this series, many of them early in his innings at great cost to the touring Indians.

Chappell says that run of good luck hasn’t been limited to this summer and will eventually go the other way.

“The consistency Marnus Labuschagne has shown has been incredible, he’s had an incredible run of consistent scores,” he said.

“Now, he’s been extremely lucky, not just this season but prior to that as well. At some point that luck is going to run against him, and that will be a challenge for him.

“That’s the sort of challenge you expect to get as a Test player, and how he overcomes those will be worth watching.”

Ian Chappell says Marnus Labuschagne’s good fortune will run out at some point.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

Despite the warning, Chappell says Labuschagne’s hold on the number three spot is a massive boost for an Australian batting order that remains in some flux.

“The Australian side, really since Ricky Ponting, hasn’t had a good number three or a permanent number three,” he said.

“You had Shaun Marsh who did quite well at times but would have patches of really bad form, and then there was the injury problems. Then you had Usman Khawaja who you could really only bat at three in Australia, and outside of Australia he struggled.

“So Marnus has proved that he’s good enough to do the job. The other thing that impressed me is that he wanted the job, he volunteered for the number three position when there weren’t too many volunteers around.”

A  bowler looks at an opposing batsman as the batsman runs between the wickets
Labuschagne has been Australia’s highest run scorer of the series.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

Chappell was also impressed with how Tim Paine batted in the first innings at the Gabba, in the wake of some criticism of his performance and conduct in Sydney.

“There was a determination to his batting and I thought he played pretty well in this innings here,” he said.

“He’s done a very good job as captain in difficult circumstances, I would give full credit to him that’s he been able to turn things around. not only with how they are playing on the field, but with Australia’s reputation as well.

“I think Tim Paine has to get a lot of credit for how that has progressed.

“I reckon that moment the ball hit the ground when he dropped Ravichandran Ashwin, having had words with Ashwin just prior to that … he probably thought ‘I’ve just made a big blunder’.

“That’s how you don’t let the pressure pile up on you too much. If you set your own standards, whether they be playing standards or behaving standards, then on the days you don’t meet those standards you go away and evaluate.

“That way to me you’re not letting the outside pressure pile up on you.”

Listen to ABC Sport’s live coverage of the fourth Test from the Gabba.

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Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne scores ton but other batsmen disappoint against depleted India attack in fourth Test

The 36th over of day one of the fourth Test in Brisbane was a microcosm of India’s heroic and possibly doomed attempt to take home the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Spindly seamer Navdeep Saini was the bowler. It was his sixth day as a Test cricketer.

Thanks to an excruciating process of deduction, that made him the deputy leader of India’s attack — five bowlers with four Test appearances between them, toiling away on a flat, hard surface that has been a burial ground for even seasoned international bowlers. Of course, India had earlier lost the toss again.

All morning the patchwork combination applied themselves diligently, bowling fuller than their predecessors in this series, sticking to a plan that meant they were frequently driven for ego-bruising straight boundaries.

Yet it also reaped rewards. David Warner nicked off in the first over of the day. Marcus Harris gave catching practice.

By the 36th over, one of the debutants, off-spinning all-rounder Washington Sundar, had removed Steve Smith, Australia’s batting phenomenon. Now Saini worked away at Smith’s right-hand man, Marnus Labuschagne, slightly back of a length, off stump line, squaring the Queenslander up and drawing the thick edge towards the safe hands of Ajinkya Rahane at gully.

Of course, the catch went down.

India has done it all summer. Australia too, but in anomalous clumps, not day in, day out. Labuschagne alone has had more lives than Sylvester the Cat. This time the opportunity was dead simple, its spillage inexplicable. Saini fell to the turf and writhed in agony. In the process of delivering the ball he’d injured his groin. Because, well, of course.

On the same delivery he saw Marnus Labuschagne edge a dropped-chance to gully, Navdeep Saini went down with a groin injury.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

Australia should have been 4-93 at that point, batting first on its multi-generational stomping ground against cricket’s ship of Theseus — just two core components from Adelaide and nine replacement parts.

Saini returned to the arena soon enough, but you half-expected him to trip head-first into the gate or be struck by a lone bolt of lightning out of clear blue sky. Indeed, it took neither that nor a single further delivery and he was back off the ground anyway.

For a while, India sagged ever so slightly, and you expected them to buckle and break. A few hours after his reprieve, Labuschagne drove Mohammed Siraj through cover to bring up his century from 195 deliveries. His partnership with Matthew Wade stretched into triple figures. Here was the flat track, here were the bullies.

Then Wade again lost his head before reaching 50, undoing a lot of hot, sweaty work with the sort of agricultural hack-pull that sticks in the minds of even his supporters. Again, it went further up than away. Again, he was caught. And again, it sparked a mini crisis; Labuschagne departed in a similar manner only two overs later.

Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne goes down on one knee as he completes a shot against India bowler T Natarajan.
Marnus Labuschagne was the only batsman to truly take advantage of India’s makeshift attack with a Gabba ton.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

Thus Australia was five down for not nearly enough, and the team that cannot be killed was still breathing down its neck.

Shane Warne muttered: “It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?” And for once, it was. How had they done it?

In short, only Labuschagne had done what the other batsmen should have: cashing in against a depleted attack.

The appeal of Labuschagne is also his drawback: when he is on song, which is now more often than not, he bats as though bowlers are not entitled to his wicket. He has access to all the gears required to combat Test cricket’s fluctuating moods. He has the stamina to counter harsh conditions — 32 degrees doesn’t sound hot, but the humidity in Brisbane was energy-sapping, especially so soon after the exhausting finish at Sydney.

When he has more restraint, he will challenge Smith’s position as top dog.

But the rest? Maybe what follows will make a moot point of it, but there were more signs that all is not-quite-right with this Australian line-up, both in its construction and philosophy. It is hard to think of another combination of recent decades, for instance, who would have let as modest a spinner of the ball as Sundar settle into his groove the way he did today.

India celebrates as Matthew Wade walks off after his dismissal at the Gabba
Matthew Wade again lost his head before he could reach fifty.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

Perhaps a shock loss here, unlikely as it remains, would be of greater benefit to the home side than the complacency that might accompany a win.

Credit must also be applied where it’s due. That Australia dropped its bundle earlier in the week, and finds it so compromised again, is due as much to India’s strength of character as Australia’s weaknesses.

On Friday, Siraj’s three Tests made him the attack leader, a mantle he took on with pride. There was a period shortly after lunch in which he’d bowled one-third of India’s overs for the day, an unsustainable level of output for an old-ball specialist but an effort that showed his willingness to put the team first. He was seen marshalling the debutants. He delivered the final delivery of the day, a fast bouncer that sailed well over Tim Paine’s head but also made a statement: I won’t fade away.

If not unicorns, Indian fast bowlers who can re-shape Tests in Australia have been atypical. This summer we have seen two — Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj — and they have elevated the contest to something special. It has also inspired the next in line.

T Natarajan and Shardul Thakur are net bowlers by comparison, but that is also the point: last in line, at the end of an arduous tour, they took key wickets on Friday and showed this Indian squad has seemingly endless reserves of perseverance.

And it can only be such intangible qualities keeping India in this match. In the 80th over, as shadows crept across the pitch, Cameron Green bunted a regulation caught-and-bowled chance to Shardul.

He dropped it, of course. Consistency can have its drawbacks, too.

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Australia vs India Test series, Shane Warne apology to Marnus Labuschagne ahead of Brisbane match

Shane Warne is standing by his comments about Marnus Labuschagne’s peculiar mannerisms – and says the Aussie batsman has no issue with what he said during a recent broadcast.

Warne and co-commentator Andrew Symonds were heard discussing Labuschagne’s quirky behaviour while they thought they were off-air.

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But a live microphone broadcast their comments, prompting Warne to contact Labuschagne to clear up the issue.

“Marnus bats best when he forgets all the exaggeration stuff, like calling, ‘No’, ‘Yes’ and ‘Wait on’ really loudly and waving his bat around,” Warne wrote, in an exclusive column for News Corp Australia.

“I like it when he just bats – and that’s why I said to Andrew Symonds that he should ‘just bat properly’.

“I’ve communicated with Marnus about what unfortunately went to air last week and I’d like to apologise for swearing on TV.

“Marnus had no issue. He thought it was funny and had a laugh about it and so did his teammates. Andrew has also apologised to Marnus for what he said, too.”

Warne isn’t the only one to comment on the over-the-top antics Labuschagne and Steve Smith display at the crease.

But the Spin King is confident the 26-year-old can continue his march to the very top of the sport.

“Labuschagne can challenge The Big Three – Kane Williamson, Smith and Virat Kohli – as the best batsman in the world,” said Warne, of the ICC’s number four-ranked batsman. “He is an outstanding player.”

Read Shane Warne’s full column where he also identifies the player poised to replace Matthew Wade at number five here

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Hanuma Vihari drop, teammates snub star, awful blunder, marnus Labuschagne

Jasprit Bumrah had his head in his hands after just two balls on day four of the third Test in Sydney after Hanuma Vihari dropped an absolute sitter at square leg.

Marnus Labuschagne clipped a ball off his pads in the first over and it travelled at an easy pace and height to Vihari, who made a meal of the simple chance.

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Normally when someone drops a catch their teammates will console them, but Australian legend Michael Hussey pointed out in commentary for Fox Sports that wasn’t the case with the Indians.

“The other Indians have not got around Vihari at all,” Hussey said. “None of the other fielders went over to give him a pat on the back and say, ‘Don’t worry, get the next one’.”

India was desperate for early wickets to keep Australia’s lead to a minimum but Vihari’s drop was a cruel blow for a team that surrendered control of the Test on a disastrous third day.

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting said all the talk in the Indian camp before day four would have been about taking any half-chances that came their way but Vihari’s blunder hurt the team’s morale badly.

“That’s an absolute sitter,” Ponting said in commentary for Channel 7. “We’re not going to get an easier chance than that. A straightforward chance.

“It’s a plan that they’ve been working away on for days and almost Test matches to get Labuschagne (caught) in that area.

“I can guarantee the whole chat last night and even earlier this morning with the Indians would have been about being patient, bowling at areas, taking chances when they come and trying to create a couple of half-chances as the Australians did yesterday. That’s as straightforward as they come.

“Generally a very good and safe fieldsman, Vihari. He has good hands and that’s an absolute sitter.”

RELATED: Close-up reveals frightening DRS error

Labuschagne capitalised on his life to register his second half century of the match, cruising to 50 off 82 balls as he continued to pile on the pain with Steve Smith.

However, their 103-run partnership was broken when substitute wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha — on the field because Rishabh Pant was off injured after copping a nasty knock on the elbow while batting on Saturday — showed Vihari what to do with a classy catch behind the stumps.

Labuschagne, on 73, gloved a ball from Navdeep Saini down the leg side and Saha moved smartly to his left then dived full-stretch to haul in the tough chance.

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Australia v India third Test LIVE updates: Labuschagne dismissal gives tourists hope as Smith settles in

Marnus Labuschagne was the aggressor early on day four but he’s been caught behind, bringing Matthew Wade to the crease.

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Australia v India third Test LIVE updates: Labuschagne pushes past 50 after tourists drop sitter

Marnus Labuschagne was dropped on just the second ball of the day but has now brought up his second half century of the Test.

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Warne changes tune on Labuschagne after gaffe

Warne, then a player, had the finger pointed at him but has maintained he was not the culprit. A Nine cameraman, Joe Previtera (aka Joe the Cameraman), publicly confessed to the jibe but mystery has always remained about what happened.

The conversation on Friday started innocently enough with Warne suggesting Labuschagne’s part-time leg-spin should be introduced into the attack late on the second day.

Test batsman Marnus Labuschagne was mocked for his eccentric mannerisms by Shane Warne and Andrew Symonds.Credit:Getty

“Do something now to his ADD [attention deficit disorder], f—ing pills,” Symonds said.

“Yeah, f—,” Warne responded. “Jeez it’s annoying. ‘No!!!’ Just f—ing bat properly,” Warne said, referring to Labuschagne’s unorthodox behaviour while batting. Superstar batsman Steve Smith has similar quirks but was not targeted.


Symonds then suggested “we’ll have to give him the hog pile” – a term that refers to a group of people jumping on top of a person. There is, however, conjecture as to whether he was referring instead to former national teammate and noted “pest” Brad Hogg, who was piled on as a joke to pull him into line.

“Mate, if you keep that shit up we’re going to have to squash your guts out your arse,” Symonds says, drawing a laugh from Warne.

Warne, however, was on Saturday more complimentary towards the Queenslander, who caught Jasprit Bumrah short of his ground with a brilliant direct hit and also played a role in effecting another run out.

“That was just sensational stuff,” Warne said on Fox. “To slide, pick it up, turn around and go bang was just brilliant. Absolutely sensational.”

Warne also praised Labuschagne after he got his hand to an extremely difficult opportunity in close to the bat.

“He did so well just to get a hand on it,” Warne said. “He’s a couple of metres from the bat and hit it well. Reaction is about 0.2 second probably.”

Kayo Sports, a subsidiary of Foxtel, issued an apology on Twitter.

“Our stream started early and caught some unacceptable comments,” the streaming service tweeted. “On behalf of @kayosports and the commentary team, we unreservedly apologise.”

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Marnus Labuschagne can bat, can throw – and happy to do it his way

In the five critical innings of this series, Labuschagne has come out to bat at No.3 with the score no higher than 16. The new ball has never been more than an hour old when he has had to rebuff it. Yet, with scores of 47, 48, 28, 91 and now an important 47 not out, he is the only batsman on either side, in a series dominated by bowlers, who can say he has succeeded each time it has mattered.


On Saturday afternoon, Labuschagne was in the middle in the sixth over, on a pitch showing variable bounce, which the Australian bowlers had spent the morning cleverly exploiting. Again, when Labuschagne walked out, Australia had one of those opportunities that they had got into the habit of not taking. Soon both openers were out. The hosts again looked to their banker.

Labuschagne barely played a false shot. There was a thick edge that fell short of slip, a rare play and miss, but no bother. India tried to choke him with the leg trap, but Labuschagne continually sprang it with crisp strokeplay.

Were his mannerisms toned down? You’d hope not. You’d hope that the next time Labuschagne walks past the cricketers’ old folks’ home, he gives them a flamboyant and eccentric leave, a loud and proud ‘‘No run!’’

Statistics support the observation that the hardest task is to back up one success with another. In this series, Patrick Cummins and Jasprit Bumrah are the only other players who have followed one good day, each and every day, with a second one. For Labuschagne, this challenge has been magnified by his breakout summer last year. There has been no disappointing second album for him.

Cummins, Australia’s other Mr Consistency, was at his very best when the match hung in the balance in India’s first innings. Again, Tim Paine reserved him for the slightly tarnished ball. Has there ever been a more effective and fearsome first change?

Cummins made life hell for India’s best batsmen, asphyxiating Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara before removing both. Then he added injury to insult, putting Rishabh Pant out of commission with a chest-high short ball.


So accurate was Cummins, the numerical suspense was whether his overs bowled would catch up with his runs conceded. They didn’t, quite, but by the time he took the last wicket, his fourth, he had allowed just 29 runs off 21.4 overs. India simply couldn’t do other than keep him out.

The world No.1 might have had more wickets if not for Australia’s brilliant fielding.

Josh Hazlewood pulled off an astonishing save-throw-and-direct-hit worthy of a man half his size. The victim was Hanuma Vihari. Inevitably, the other two bonus run outs involved Labuschagne. He whipped off the bails from a precise Cummins throw to put paid to Ravi Ashwin and executed his own direct hit from 30 metres to dismiss Bumrah. He performed both acts of athleticism while wearing a helmet.

Weird? Annoying? Golly, a young man daring to be himself? It’s a good thing that the world Labuschagne lives in has consigned those attitudes to their richly deserved irrelevance.

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Cricket Australia vs India, third Test 2021, score, day two, latest, Marnus Labuschagne, sledging, highlights, video

After his impressive showing with the bat, Marnus Labuschagne had plenty to be chipper about as he walked back into the middle to put India under some pressure late into day two at the SCG.

Hoping to get some early wickets, Labuschagne went to work with some sledging that had the Fox Cricket commentators in stitches in the box.

His exchanges with Shubman Gill were particularly entertaining as the two barbed back and forth with the stump mic picking it all up for everyone at home.

“Who’s your favourite player?” Labuschagne is heard repeatedly asking Gill, to which he replies: “I’ll tell you later.”

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