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Labuschagne’s Ton to Jhye’s Fifer: Talking Points from Second Ashes Test

We’re not even halfway through the 2021-22 Ashes series and the word 5-0 is floating around quite casually in Australia. The second Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval did go to the last session of the match but it was too one-sided in the favour of the home side. Marnus Labuschagne’s hundred in the first innings followed by a fifty in the second innings was good enough for him to pick the Player of the Match award and for Australia to win the game by 275 runs.

The Aussies take a 2-0 lead going into the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Here are the talking points from the second Ashes Test match.

 

MARNUS GETS HIS FIRST ASHES TON

Labuschagne made his Test debut in the 2019 Ashes series and since then he has been one of the heaviest run-scorers in the format. The only thing that eluded Marnus in his young career was an Ashes ton and he was able to strike that off his list in the first innings of the Adelaide day and night Test. It wasn’t a free-flowing innings for the Australian number three batter. The English bowlers peppered him with some chin music but Labuschagne was good enough to block out those tough phases. He did have a fair amount of luck his way in this innings but he made it count. He finished with 105 off 305 deliveries and followed that up with a breezy 51 in the second innings.

 

WARM WELCOME TO CAPTAINCY FOR SMUDGER

Australia’s newly-appointed captain, Pat Cummins had to isolate before the second Test as he came in close contact with a positive case in the build-up to the game. So it meant that Steve Smith had to take up the responsibility of leading his nation yet again in an Ashes Test. It was an easy comeback to captaincy for Smith, as starting from the toss most things went his team’s way. He made some shrewd bowling changes in the match and was impressive with his innovative field placements. It was a smooth Test match for Smith to lead Australia yet again, after what happened in Newlands back in 2018.

 

OVER-PLANNING AN ISSUE FOR THIS ENGLISH TEAM?

For some time we’ve been hearing that this English setup is preparing for the Ashes series. Previous failures have been written off by stating that the real test would be Down Under for this team. Ever since Chris Silverwood took over, he has constantly been talking about this series in Australia and every plan was made with keeping this series in consideration. So after years and years of planning, one would expect this English side to be more competitive at the start of this high profile series. But they’ve been far from their best. Interestingly, they fielded a bowling lineup in the first Test that had never played a single match together and went into the second Test without a spinner on a dry Adelaide Oval track that is known for its assistance for spin bowling.

They have bowled an unexplainable amount of no-balls and even managed to pick wickets off these balls. They have fielded horrendously and dropped plenty of catches. None of their batters has managed to score a century so far in the tour. Things went to some extreme when Ollie Robinson rolled his arm over as an off-spinner on the fourth day of this Test match to improve the over rate. It’s ironic that with so much planning the team looks so underprepared. They are repeating the mistakes of their previous Australian tours and are performing well below what is expected of them.

 

JOS BUTTLER HAD AN INTRIGUING TEST

The second Test started on a positive note for England’s wicketkeeper Jos Buttler as he picked up an absolute screamer to dismiss Marcus Harris early in the first innings. Post that he missed two relatively easier chances and looked lazy behind the stumps for the majority of the first-innings. With the bat, his horrendous series continued as he got out for a 15-ball duck trying to play a shot that wasn’t on.

He had a similar experience in the second innings with the gloves on as he picked up a screamer and dropped the ones that he should have caught with his eyes closed. With the bat though he looked like the only positive sign for England. In an attempt to save the game on the fifth day for his country, Buttler soaked up 207 deliveries for his 26 runs but got out in a manner that was comical. Just when the Australians were starting to panic, Buttler managed to jump on the stumps while playing a backfoot defensive stroke. His hit-wicket dismissal summed up England’s tour so far perfectly.

 

RICHARDSON GETS A MATCH-WINNING FIVE-WICKET HAUL

With two senior bowlers in Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood out for this Test, Australia had a relatively inexperienced bowling attack with Jhye Richardson playing the third match of his career and Michael Neser making his debut. Richardson bowled well in the first innings but without much luck. He finished wicketless in the first innings but bowled way better than what his figures suggested. He got his rewards in the second innings where his match-winning five-wicket haul gave Australia a 2-0 lead in the series.

 

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