Australian captain Tim Paine praised the resiliency and character of Marnus Labuschagne after the stand-in batsman’s defiant innings of 59 halted England’s charge to victory on day five at Lord’s.
A Jofra Archer-inspired England looked on course for victory at the Home of Cricket after a trio of Aussie batsmen fell cheaply in their efforts to salvage a draw – Warner (5), Khawaja (2), Bancroft (16).
But aN 85-run partnership from Travis Head and concussion substitute Marnus Labuschagne frustrated England and whittled away enough overs for the Australian lower order to be able to survive in difficult conditions in the evening session.
Labuschagne had earlier become the first concussion substitute ever in International cricket following Steve Smith’s withdrawal on day five after sustaining a vicious blow to the neck from a 92mph Archer bouncer.
— Cricket365 (@Cricket365) August 18, 2019
Speaking on the role Labuschagne played on such short notice, Australia captain Paine said: “Marnus played superbly. He got hit hard in the face second ball and I thought he showed great character, great skill and great technique.
“He came in today and batted as well as anyone in the Test match in, I think, the hardest conditions. It was dark, it was spinning, it was fast and moving around a bit. I thought handled it as well as anyone in the whole Test.”
Paine then joked that replacing perhaps the greatest batsman since Sir Donald Bradman was not an easy task for one man: “We wanted two (substitutes). I think if Smithy is averaging 63, you want to bring a couple of batters in!”
Speaking upon the handy position now find themselves in in the series given their position as holders, Paine added: “I wouldn’t say it was a great escape at all. It’s 1-0, we go to a Test match next week in Leeds in a great position.
“If you would have said we’d be 1-0 up after two Tests, we would have taken that every day of the week.
“There will be times in the three Tests when England are in control, and we will be in control. It’s about taking that winning momentum.”
Cricket Australia (CA) revealed late on Sunday evening that Steve Smith had undergone a “precautionary scan” of his neck that thankfully had not revealed any structural damage.
Smith reportedly returned to the hotel where the team were based and “will continue to be reviewed on an ongoing basis”.
CA regulations specify that a concussed player must not return to physical activity within 24 hours, after which the player in question must have their progress reviewed in a graduated process.
The ICC’s most recent review on the matter recommends seven days absence from action and the ECB do not allow the player to return to full training until at least six days have passed.
Smith, out of personal preference chooses not to wear the additional protective plates attached to the bottom of the helmet, known as the Stem Guard. The attachments were introduced following the unfortunate passing of Phillip Hughes in 2014 following a direct blow to the batsman’s neck.
Following the incidient at Lord’s, however, Smith acknowledged the need to re-think that decision, stating: “That is certainly something I need to have a look at and perhaps try in the nets and see if I can find a way to get comfortable with it.”
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