Fourth Test between Australia and India could have been played in Perth instead of Brisbane: Dirk Nannes


With just four Tests played over the current Australian summer, ABC Sport commentator Dirk Nannes has questioned why Brisbane was given hosting rights instead of Perth.

The hard-fought series between Australia and India has been played in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, while the new Perth Stadium going without a Test.

The series is going down to the wire at the Gabba, with Australia seeking a win to clinch the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. India only require a draw.

Nannes said the investment in Perth Stadium and the quality of the cricket played on the grounds meant there was a strong argument to play a match in WA ahead of Brisbane.

“They’ve just put a billion dollars into a stadium and put on a great Test match when they’ve had it there,” he said.

Australia’s superb record at the ‘Gabbatoir’ is often raised as a reason to hold a game there, with the hosts having not lost a Test in Brisbane since 1988/89.

“Or do you pick it on your place that puts on the best product?”

Nannes’s comments about the viability of the Brisbane Test came in the wake of low crowd numbers on day four. The crowd capacity had been limited to 10,000 each day due to coronavirus concerns, but the Monday crowd was a fraction of that.

“There’s only 2,200 people who find it entertaining enough to turn up and watch,” Nannes said.

“I just feel like it’s a trend over the years that people aren’t coming to the Brisbane Test in the numbers that you get elsewhere,” he said, pointing out that it was still school holidays in Queensland.

SCG and MCG have the advantage of consistent dates

The Test and series are evenly poised.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

Fellow commentator Quentin Hull said it was harder for Queenslanders to blank out their diaries for the annual Test, as it wasn’t on a set date.

“Everyone has lower crowds on day four. Aside from Melbourne and Sydney, you aren’t sure when the Test will be played each year,” Hull said.

“Melbourne is always on on Boxing Day. The SCG is always in the New Year.

“This is an event that doesn’t have a set date in the calendar.”

Nannes admitted the Brisbane pitch was of a high standard.

“This is my favourite cricket pitch in the country.

“You need an atmosphere. You need bums on seats in Australia. And the ground is somewhat antiquated.

“I just feel with the amount of investment that has gone into Perth — and you don’t just chase the money — but [also] the quality of cricket Perth has put on in the last few years, they might deserve it.

“This topic generates discussion every year, and it’s always going to be along state lines.”

Both Nannes and Hull agreed they would like to see more Tests played, even if it doesn’t generate the revenue of limited-overs cricket.

In 2019 former Australian batsman Ed Cowan called the Gabba a “concrete bowl”.

“Brisbane is not a great place to watch Test cricket. It’s hot, it’s sweaty, you’re in a concrete bowl,” he said

“There’s nothing great about the Gabba except probably the wicket.”

Listen to live coverage of Australia vs India on ABC Sport.

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Australia v India LIVE: Fourth Test, day four



The stage is set for an exciting finale to the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. Can Australia set the game up on day four at the Gabba?

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Australia may lead India in fourth Test in Brisbane but under-strength tourists continue to thrive


Justin Langer is one of those rare sporting characters who is most intimidating when he smiles.

The Australian coach wore a typically disconcerting grin on Sunday morning, shortly before play began at the Gabba. He was talking about Mitchell Starc. Langer seemed certain it would be a big day for the left-arm paceman.

In the early stages of the first session, the prophecy was playing out. Starc’s pace was up, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were a little jumpy, and the edges were coming thick and fast.

All was primed for one of those performances Starc has produced so often in home Tests — four or five quick wickets and a couple of bruises to bully out the middle and lower-order batsmen.

Langer’s faith in the New South Welshman is well-founded in statistics. In the last three Australian summers, Starc’s returns have been 29 wickets at 17.44 apiece, 25 at 25.84 and 22 at 23.54. Those are fine numbers for the third option in a world-beating pace attack. Starc’s remarkable strike rate of 48.9 is the best of any bowler in Australia’s all-time top 20.

Yet he has flagged noticeably this summer, an underacknowledged factor in Australia’s struggles.

Leading into this game, nine series wickets at 31.66 probably flattered his performances. Along with Nathan Lyon (six wickets at 57.66 in the first three Tests), he’s been fortunate that the startling brilliance of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood and the uncertainty of Australia’s batting line-up have provided ample distraction.

Both Starc and Lyon could and probably should have turned a corner today, padding their stats and reconfirming their positions. Starc looked most likely. He was also a little unlucky; he certainly didn’t benefit from Tim Paine’s reactive placement of floating slips, nor the rub of the green.

After lunch, Hazlewood snuffed out promising innings from Mayank Agarwal and Rishabh Pant. The score was 6-186, unheralded newbies Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur were at the crease and another Brisbane rout looked certain. It was, in other words, a situation tailor-made for Starc and Lyon.

Instead, India surged again. An audacious, record-breaking seventh-wicket partnership of 125 took hold and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy started slipping away before Australia’s eyes.

Shardul Thakur proved to be a frustration for the home side.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

In his milestone Test, Lyon was milked for runs like a novice, not a man on the cusp of 400 Test wickets. Just before the final drinks break, Washington dropped to one knee for a slog-sweep and launched the spinner over the ropes with a no-look six.

After a defensive prod back down the pitch, Lyon was reduced to pegging the ball back at the debutant’s head.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Shardul’s sparkling knock went close to demoralising Australia. A 29-year-old fill-in with a first-class batting average of 16, he smacked Starc around like he was a village trundler.

And the highlights were entirely orthodox, not lucky swipes: after tea, Shardul pushed confidently onto the front foot and stroked a delightful straight drive to the fence when Starc over-pitched. Two deliveries later, the retaliatory short ball was dispatched over point for four more.

A week ago, Paine crowed that he couldn’t wait to get the Indians onto the Gabba. On Sunday, he was spilling catches, wasting reviews and tactical inspiration was in short supply.

With Cummins misfiring for the first time all summer, Starc was doubly exposed. A freeze-frame graphic spoke of his scattergun method: at the point of delivery, all the other Australian bowlers had their eyes fixed on the batsman. Starc’s were firmly shut.

Australia wicketkeeper Tim Paine speaks to bowler Pat Cummins on the field during a Test at the Gabba.
Tim Paine will hope to get more out of Pat Cummins when the hosts bowl again.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

Incensed at the impertinence of India’s newest pair of heroes, Starc cranked the speed dial up to 150kph and aimed at the body — his go-to move this summer, but not a very successful one.

Even at that speed, you significantly reduce your chances of taking wickets if barely one in 10 deliveries is aimed at the stumps. Surprise surprise, when Shardul was finally dismissed for 67, it was because Cummins returned and bowled stump-to-stump.

Does Australia deserve to win this series? It is hard to mount a convincing argument that a pair of brilliant batsmen and two great fast bowlers make a champion team.

India, on the other hand, has showed that it can throw together almost any combination of 11 fit players and thrive, even at bogey grounds, even at the end of a punishing tour, even when exhaustion is surely setting in.

There was something else Langer said before play that stuck in the mind as India’s innings wore on. For advice on the Brisbane thunderstorms that might wipe out a chunk of day five and ensure India’s retention of the trophy, the coach has been leaning on Michael Neser, the wily local paceman whose primary tasks this summer have been to work on his luscious beard and bowl in the nets.

On today’s evidence, he can consider himself unlucky that his only other role is amateur meteorologist.

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Australia may lead India in fourth Test in Brisbane but under-strength tourists continue to thrive


Justin Langer is one of those rare sporting characters who is most intimidating when he smiles.

The Australian coach wore a typically disconcerting grin on Sunday morning, shortly before play began at the Gabba. He was talking about Mitchell Starc. Langer seemed certain it would be a big day for the left-arm paceman.

In the early stages of the first session, the prophecy was playing out. Starc’s pace was up, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were a little jumpy, and the edges were coming thick and fast.

All was primed for one of those performances Starc has produced so often in home Tests — four or five quick wickets and a couple of bruises to bully out the middle and lower-order batsmen.

Langer’s faith in the New South Welshman is well-founded in statistics. In the last three Australian summers, Starc’s returns have been 29 wickets at 17.44 apiece, 25 at 25.84 and 22 at 23.54. Those are fine numbers for the third option in a world-beating pace attack. Starc’s remarkable strike rate of 48.9 is the best of any bowler in Australia’s all-time top 20.

Yet he has flagged noticeably this summer, an underacknowledged factor in Australia’s struggles.

Leading into this game, nine series wickets at 31.66 probably flattered his performances. Along with Nathan Lyon (six wickets at 57.66 in the first three Tests), he’s been fortunate that the startling brilliance of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood and the uncertainty of Australia’s batting line-up have provided ample distraction.

Both Starc and Lyon could and probably should have turned a corner today, padding their stats and reconfirming their positions. Starc looked most likely. He was also a little unlucky; he certainly didn’t benefit from Tim Paine’s reactive placement of floating slips, nor the rub of the green.

After lunch, Hazlewood snuffed out promising innings from Mayank Agarwal and Rishabh Pant. The score was 6-186, unheralded newbies Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur were at the crease and another Brisbane rout looked certain. It was, in other words, a situation tailor-made for Starc and Lyon.

Instead, India surged again. An audacious, record-breaking seventh-wicket partnership of 125 took hold and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy started slipping away before Australia’s eyes.

Shardul Thakur proved to be a frustration for the home side.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

In his milestone Test, Lyon was milked for runs like a novice, not a man on the cusp of 400 Test wickets. Just before the final drinks break, Washington dropped to one knee for a slog-sweep and launched the spinner over the ropes with a no-look six.

After a defensive prod back down the pitch, Lyon was reduced to pegging the ball back at the debutant’s head.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Shardul’s sparkling knock went close to demoralising Australia. A 29-year-old fill-in with a first-class batting average of 16, he smacked Starc around like he was a village trundler.

And the highlights were entirely orthodox, not lucky swipes: after tea, Shardul pushed confidently onto the front foot and stroked a delightful straight drive to the fence when Starc over-pitched. Two deliveries later, the retaliatory short ball was dispatched over point for four more.

A week ago, Paine crowed that he couldn’t wait to get the Indians onto the Gabba. On Sunday, he was spilling catches, wasting reviews and tactical inspiration was in short supply.

With Cummins misfiring for the first time all summer, Starc was doubly exposed. A freeze-frame graphic spoke of his scattergun method: at the point of delivery, all the other Australian bowlers had their eyes fixed on the batsman. Starc’s were firmly shut.

Australia wicketkeeper Tim Paine speaks to bowler Pat Cummins on the field during a Test at the Gabba.
Tim Paine will hope to get more out of Pat Cummins when the hosts bowl again.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

Incensed at the impertinence of India’s newest pair of heroes, Starc cranked the speed dial up to 150kph and aimed at the body — his go-to move this summer, but not a very successful one.

Even at that speed, you significantly reduce your chances of taking wickets if barely one in 10 deliveries is aimed at the stumps. Surprise surprise, when Shardul was finally dismissed for 67, it was because Cummins returned and bowled stump-to-stump.

Does Australia deserve to win this series? It is hard to mount a convincing argument that a pair of brilliant batsmen and two great fast bowlers make a champion team.

India, on the other hand, has showed that it can throw together almost any combination of 11 fit players and thrive, even at bogey grounds, even at the end of a punishing tour, even when exhaustion is surely setting in.

There was something else Langer said before play that stuck in the mind as India’s innings wore on. For advice on the Brisbane thunderstorms that might wipe out a chunk of day five and ensure India’s retention of the trophy, the coach has been leaning on Michael Neser, the wily local paceman whose primary tasks this summer have been to work on his luscious beard and bowl in the nets.

On today’s evidence, he can consider himself unlucky that his only other role is amateur meteorologist.

Thank you for dropping by My Local Pages and checking out this news article involving Australian Capital Territory news titled “Australia may lead India in fourth Test in Brisbane but under-strength tourists continue to thrive”. This post is brought to you by MyLocalPages as part of our local and national news services.

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Australia, India left frustrated as rain ends day two early in fourth Test at Gabba in Brisbane


On Friday, India’s Shardul Thakur took a wicket with his first delivery of the Brisbane Test. On Saturday, Pat Cummins did it with his second. Nathan Lyon, backed by a roaring crowd in his 100th Test, waited only 17 deliveries to take the 397th of his career.

In the morning session, India took three in the space of 14 deliveries to fight its way back into the contest. Its bowling attack in this match is the least-experienced Australia has faced in a home Test in 140 years: 11 Test wickets between five of them before this game.

With better catching from their colleagues on day one, they might have taken 10 in a day.

Cameron Green, on the other hand, is four Tests and 216 deliveries into his Test bowling career and hasn’t managed a single breakthrough. It is one of the more curious aspects of a series mostly shaped by bowlers, to many of whom Green compares favourably.

The 21-year-old has height, pace, prodigious outswing and great consistency of line and length. But no wickets.

We take it for granted watching a series like this day in, day out, but bowling a cricket ball at 135 kilometres per hour is a tremendous physical feat. Few cricketers in recent memory have made it look so simple as Green, who ambles in and eases through a relaxed, simple delivery stride.

To bowl at a similar speed, the short and dumpy Shardul requires the exertion of a strongman pulling a bus.

Green’s lavish talents and imposing physique come with a predictable vulnerability: stress fractures in his back forced the remodelling of his bowling action and the careful limitation of his output. So, he bowls within himself. Coaches and selectors are wary of the two-point plan of his childhood: bat like Ricky Ponting, bowl like Brett Lee. Only one has the potential to cancel out both.

The closest recent parallel is with Shane Watson, with whom Green’s early Sheffield Shield career bears a close resemblance: teenage sensations taking bags of wickets and batting with maturity beyond their years. Green debuted for Western Australia as a 17-year-old and destroyed Tasmania with seven wickets. As per Watson, when the injuries began, his batting took centre stage.

Green has since learned that patience and an even temperament are the bedrock of an all-rounder’s game. When the wickets don’t come, runs inevitably will, and vice versa. In the morning session on Saturday, he moved gracefully through the gears as he had in the sparkling 84 he made in Sydney.

Cameron Green plays a shot towards the cover region against India.
Cameron Green fell short of a second consecutive Test half-century.(AAP: Darren England)

From the assured 28 he’d made by stumps on day one, he moved to 47 with a pair of dreamy straight drives off the bowling of Thangarasu Natarajan — weight transferred perfectly to the front foot, head dead still and over the ball, full face of the bat making sublime and late contact, ball thudding into the fence a second later.

With the ball, he will eventually have similar moments.

Patience was certainly a virtue for players and fans alike on Saturday at the Gabba, with rain destroying a large chunk of the afternoon session, reducing the sum total of play to the slap-happy end of Australia’s first innings of 369 and the jittery beginning to India’s reply.

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The downtime prompted certain niche analyses that are the only benefit of Test cricket’s endless delays. One: why, despite overwhelming evidence that Mitchell Starc is a better batsman, does Australia persist with Pat Cummins at number eight?

This tactical error is now particularly glaring in a team whose scoring load is carried by too few. It is downright bizarre in a line-up containing a settled rookie number six in Green and an ascendant number seven in Tim Paine, both of whom could accompany clean-hitting Starc through the sort of momentum-shifting partnerships that have been the bane of many touring teams in the last decade.

On Saturday, Cummins departed quickly, another misfire in an unimpressive recent run. Starc’s crisp and undefeated 20 in the aftermath only underlined the dilemma he faces: by the time he comes in, hitting out is basically the only option and he soon runs out of partners: not backed to forge partnerships with the middle-order batsmen, he seems uninterested in applying himself to much more.

For a batsman with 10 Test half-centuries to his name, it seems a waste. And in a Test series that might go down to the wire over the next three days in Brisbane, it is a rare problem with an obvious solution.

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Australia vs India fourth Test live: Australia looks to add more runs on day two at the Gabba



8th over – Hazlewood once more

He starts with a no ball. I’ve got to say, since the third umpire took over checking the no ball full time, there seems to have been fewer wickets taken off overstepping deliveries.

Rohit is caught on the pads while leaving! The Aussies got excited but quickly realised it was too high. No point wasting energy appealing.

Hazlewood goes short and Rohit plays a controlled hook to fine leg, where Cummins gets around.

Another one on the pads of Rohit! The Aussies are up, but it looked high again. Might have been some inside edge too. No review.

No edge, but too high. On the back thigh pad.

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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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Cricket Australia vs India, fourth Test at the Gabba, live scores: Stream access, Brisbane weather, teams, Jasprit Bumrah


Watch Day 2 of the fourth Test between Australia and India LIVE on Fox Cricket, coverage starting 10am (AEDT)!

Marnus Labuschagne’s love affair with the Gabba continued as he made India pay for some poor fielding on Day 1 of the fourth Test in Brisbane.

Australia finished the first day on 5-274 thanks in large to Labuschagne’s 108 runs off 204 balls, having been dropped twice early in his innings.

The series is tied 1-1 and this game will decide the winner.

Labuschagne was dropped firstly by Ajinkya Rahane at gully and secondly by Cheteshwar Pujara in the slips moments before the Queenslander reached his half-century.



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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.

Watch Australia v India Test Series Live & Ad-Break Free During Play with the Fox Cricket commentary team. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly >

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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Australia-India Test series, locked at 1-1, set for an intriguing finish at Gabba in Brisbane


Very few people looking forward to a cricket series can resist speculating and making predictions. Very few ever get it right.

It’s a futile endeavour with so many variables at play in a universe that can always surprise us.

Nobody would have predicted India being bowled out for 36, or Steve Smith being unable to make 36 in aggregate until the third Test innings.

Nobody would have predicted a seaming MCG wicket with a match over in four days, or a Sydney pitch without a single crack in it after five.

No one knew which state borders would open and close, and where matches would be played and whether anyone could attend, or that occupants of a Sydney cemetery would be specifically prohibited.

Not many would have guessed that Nathan Lyon would bowl well but struggle for wickets, taking six in three Tests, and that he would enter the fourth and final match in Brisbane with 396 to his name, a chance to reach 400 in his 100th Test.

We could have speculated the series would be close, poised 1-1 heading into the deciding Test. We couldn’t have guessed at the path to reach this point, with Australia going through five opening batsmen and India through an entire secondary squad.

Steve Smith silenced the critics in the third Test at the SCG.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

It must be a weary arrival at the Gabba. When several Indian players reported racist abuse from spectators across several days of the Sydney Test, they were clearly shaken at the time and fed up later. For the home players, it must make their hearts sink.

“We don’t condone the abuse of anyone, let alone from a racial standpoint,” said Paine on the eve of the final Test.

“We want everyone to come along to the cricket, support Australia, support India, support the umpires if you like. But leave the abuse at the gate and respect the players and respect the game.”

Australia’s team must feel emotionally battered. Paine was rightly criticised for his snappy verbals at Ravichandran Ashwin late in the draw at Sydney. Smith was bizarrely accused of cheating after marking guard while fielding.

(For clarity, the accusation of removing guard marks is nonsense given those marks were scored deep into the pitch and are clearly visible on the video before and after the event. There was no accusation from the batsmen at the crease, only backseat drivers on the internet.)

The whole team will be feeling the tension of having lost in Melbourne and having failed to finish off a win in Sydney. Then there was the anxiety of debuting Will Pucovski, the high of seeing him succeed, the low of seeing him injure his shoulder and be out of the team again.

Tourists hit with casualty list

India’s team is physically battered. Two years ago while visiting Australia it was a five-strong squad of fast bowlers that underwrote a series win. Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah played every game, with Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar as bench strength.

This time India must finish the series with all five of them injured. As are all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja, and batsmen Hanuma Vihari and KL Rahul, while captain Virat Kohli is absent on family business. Opener Mayank Agarwal is in some doubt after being hit in the nets, as is Ashwin with back problems.

That would make a very good international XII on the sidelines.

Mohammed Siraj holds his hands out wide above his head, holding a red cricket ball in his right hand
A lot rests on Mohammed Siraj’s shoulders in Brisbane as India looks to avoid a series defest.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

In Brisbane, Mohammed Siraj will be the attack leader having debuted two matches ago in Melbourne. Navdeep Saini will be his lieutenant having debuted last week in Sydney. Thangarasu Natarajan will likely make his debut. An entire attack with three Tests between them.

Wrist spinner Kuldeep could replace Ashwin if need be, while Prithvi Shaw could open and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant could play as a specialist bat at six ahead of keeper Wriddhiman Saha. Any more injuries though and coach Ravi Shastri might be making a comeback.

However things work out, the lifting must largely be done by senior batsmen Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, and interim captain Ajinkya Rahane. Their team has fought hard so far and that must be kept going.

If India can cobble together a win or a draw, it will be one of the great touring triumphs. Either will mean the visitors will retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. It would also be key to India’s hopes of making the World Test Championship final in England in the middle of this year.

Australia is the side that must deal with expectation. All the talk has been of home advantage, of fortresses, of depleted opponents. But there would be an anxiety in the back of the mind about dropping this series after having destroyed the opposition in the first Test.

Australia wicketkeeper Tim Paine walks with his head hung after the third Test against India at the SCG.
Australia needs Tim Paine to show his leadership qualities in the final Test.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

Paine has to get his head back in the game. Smith needs to keep on with his Sydney runs. David Warner had no influence in his first match back from injury and needs to find something. Matthew Wade might need a score to keep a spot in the team, Marnus Labuschagne needs to find a way to express his enthusiasm without being obnoxious.

The bowlers will have to dig deep after a power of work and a chaser of disappointment in Sydney, especially Lyon with his milestone in view.

“If I’d caught a couple, it could have been very different for him,” said Paine of his series.

“Nathan Lyon’s played 100 Test matches, that means you’re absolutely at the top of the tree. At times the Indians have played him very well, but at times we know looking at the footage he’s created plenty of chances. He’ll have a huge role to play in this Test for us.”

One more match then, to decide yet another absorbing series between two teams who have hardly played a bad one in the last 20 years. Predicting the result is pointless. It’s time to enjoy finding out.

We hope you enjoyed checking this news article regarding local and Australian news published as “Australia-India Test series, locked at 1-1, set for an intriguing finish at Gabba in Brisbane”. This news article was brought to you by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our local news services.

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