Ashes 2021-22: Patient Labuschagne and Warner shine in gritty opening-day Adelaide battle

By Sports Desk December 16, 2021

Marnus Labuschagne stood unbeaten on 95 and David Warner fell just short of a century as Australia battled to 221-2 on the first day of the second Test in Adelaide.

Steve Smith captained Australia for the first time since the ball-tampering scandal in 2018, after new skipper Pat Cummins was forced to isolate following close contact with a COVID-19 case in a restaurant.

Smith opted to bat first on Thursday and lost opener Marcus Harris for three to Stuart Broad in the bowler's 150th Test, as Jos Buttler produced a fantastic diving catch down the leg side. Harris had earlier overturned an lbw decision.

Warner closed shop in response against Broad and James Anderson's early dominance with the pink ball, managing just one run from his opening 35 deliveries, with Labuschagne following in a similarly attritional fashion.

Labuschagne was relieved when he was dropped by Buttler on 21 off Stokes, and capitalised as he battled to his second fifty of the series in 156 deliveries, after Warner had brought up a 108-ball half-century – the pair sharing their sixth century stand in Tests.

Left-handed opener Warner then fell in the 90s for the second consecutive Test when Broad gratefully collected a catch at cover, with Stokes' aggressive short-pitched bowling finally paying off. Warner was dismissed for 95 and the partnership ended at 172.

Buttler shelled a regulation catch from Anderson in the final hour with Labuschagne on 95, before Australia's number three and stand-in captain Smith made it to stumps unbeaten after a testing period against the new ball under the lights.

Landmark Labuschagne delivers once more

Labuschagne crafted an excellent first-innings 74 at the Gabba and followed that up with more calculated brilliance against England's five-man seam attack on a flat Adelaide Oval pitch in almost perfect batting conditions.

The right-hander, who has faced 275 balls so far, also made it to 2,000 Test runs in his 34th innings, with only four players – Michael Hussey, Herbert Sutcliffe, George Headley and Don Bradman – requiring fewer outings to reach the landmark.

Spin it to win it?

The surface in Adelaide has already shown signs of turn and bounce, much to the frustration of England, who dropped Jack Leach as the tourists went without a spinner for the first time in an Ashes Test since Headingley in 2001.

That run dates back further to 1998 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the last time England played without a spinner Down Under, and captain Joe Root, tasked with operating as the frontline spinner, struggled as he recorded figures of 0-37 from his 11 overs.

Related items

  • Tuchel was prepared to hand Lukaku another Chelsea chance before Inter return Tuchel was prepared to hand Lukaku another Chelsea chance before Inter return

    Thomas Tuchel was prepared to give Romelu Lukaku another chance to be a success at Chelsea and accepted responsibility for his "disappointing" return.

    Chelsea forked out a club-record £97.5million to bring Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge for a second stint last August, after a season in which his 24 goals helped fire Inter to the Serie A title.

    But the move did not work out for Chelsea or Lukaku, who earned the ire of boss Tuchel over an unauthorised interview given to Sky Italia in which he aired his displeasure at the system being used and spoke of a desire to one day return to Inter.

    That wish has since been granted, with Chelsea agreeing to allow Lukaku to re-join Inter on loan after he managed just eight Premier League goals last season.

    Lukaku gave a timely reminder of his quality with a goal 82 seconds into his second Inter debut in a 2-1 win over Lecce on Saturday.

    Speaking to Sky Sports, Tuchel conceded there were regrets over how things panned out with Lukaku.

    "Yes, we should all be honest that it was disappointing, but also for myself and my terms of performance," he said.

    "I'm far away from pointing the finger at Rom, but he was disappointed, I was disappointed. 

    "It's on me to find the structure, to build an environment to make the player confident and bring the very best out of him.

    "This is why I'm here, I'm serving the players, not the other way around. I did not succeed, which does not make me happy.

    "I was ready to give it another try, Romelu decided differently and expressed his wish to go back.

    "The owners decided in the end to agree to his wish, so we have to find more solutions."

    The Blues lost another forward when Timo Werner was allowed to return to RB Leipzig in a permanent deal.

    Tuchel believes Raheem Sterling, signed from top-flight rivals Manchester City, could be the man to provide the goal threat and thought he showed signs of his potential in a 1-0 win over Everton.

    "He's good, he brings intensity, repetitive intensity, a very humble approach to his game, he finds speed and he finds work-rate," Tuchel said.

    "You saw this at Everton, which was a very close game and maybe not the biggest physical game, but he found his work-rate. 

    "He's determined to end up in the box, he's a huge player for us and a huge player for England, so I'm happy."

  • 'I started crying' - Cheika reveals 'confusing' emotions in Pumas' hammering of Australia 'I started crying' - Cheika reveals 'confusing' emotions in Pumas' hammering of Australia

    Michael Cheika revealed he was in tears as his Argentina side put Australia to the sword in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

    The Pumas secured their biggest win over the Wallabies and their most emphatic in the Rugby Championship, winning 48-17 at Estadio Bicentenario.

    Australian Cheika coached his country for five years before his reign came to an end in 2019 and the 55-year-old had mixed emotions during a record victory for Argentina in San Juan.

    The Argentina head coach told reporters: "I love these guys, they're my crew now. I was up on the last try, cheering. But then I started crying because I know I probably shouldn't be doing this. It was a bit confusing for me, personally.

    "But they're my boys now. That's my team. I will do everything I can to help them get success and enjoy rugby.

    "They are paying me a lot of respect here and people are believing in the things that we are doing. I have to do everything I can to help them."

    Cheika is relishing a short break in his homeland before Argentina take on New Zealand.

    "It's good to be going to Australia and have a few days off, seeing my mum and my brothers and sisters and take the boys for a Leb (Lebanese) feed at my mum's place," Cheika said.

    "But I am looking forward to going to New Zealand because it is a great place to go and play rugby."

  • South Africa paceman Olivier ruled out of England Test series South Africa paceman Olivier ruled out of England Test series

    South Africa paceman Duanne Olivier has been ruled out of the Test series against England due to a hip injury.

    The quick sustained a grade two right hip flexor muscle tear during the Proteas' crushing innings-and-56-run defeat to the England Lions at Canterbury.

    South Africa have not called up a replacement ahead of a three-match series that starts at Lord's on Wednesday.

    "Duanne presented with significant discomfort involving his right hip flexor muscle at the close of play on day three of the four-day tour match," team doctor Hashendra Ramjee said.

    "After clinical assessment, he was referred for an MRI scan which revealed a grade two tear involving the right pectineus muscle.

    "Due to the extent of the injury, he has been ruled out of the three-match Test series against England and will return home where he will commence his rehabilitation with the Gauteng Central Lions medical team."

    The tourists also have a doubt over fellow quick Kagiso Rabada, who has been sidelined by an ankle injury.

    They are not short of pace options, though, with Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Marco Jansen, Glenton Stuurman and Lutho Sipamla in the squad.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.