McDonald chuffed with win without Smith, Marnus impact


McDonald chuffed with win without Smith, Marnus impact

by Staff • Published on Thu, Jun 22, 2023

In a thrilling final day victory in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston, Australia had a few familiar narratives unfold, while one jumped out for its oddity. In a rare occurrence, neither Steve Smith nor Marnus Labuschagne – the top ICC Test batter at the start of the fixture – got big runs. In fact, they combined to add a measly aggregate figure of 35 runs.

Smith arrived in Edgbaston at the back of a first-innings century in the WTC final just days ago, but endured a forgettable game with scores of 16 and 6. Labuschagne got a first-ball duck in the first innings and then fell for just 13 in the nervy chase. Having managed to win the game, Australia’s head coach Andrew McDonald saw the lack of dependence on the two for victory as a positive sign for the team.

“There will be no doubt a craving for more net sessions from Marn and Smudge, “McDonald said. “They’re disappointed they missed out in this game, but I think any time the Australian cricket team can win without those two performing at a high level is always a positive.”

“We’ve got some areas we can improve, there’s some growth within the team and there’s two obvious ones. It’s very rare that Marn and Smudge miss out in the same Test match,” McDonald added.

While Usman Khawaja – now averaging 66.87 as an opener in the format – continued to soar, David Warner’s old flaws were laid bare by his Ashes nemesis Stuart Broad. For the 15th time, the England fast bowler got the better of the Aussie left-hander in the first innings when he fell for 9. There was a much-improved effort in the second essay, albeit a failure to capitalise on a solid start. That however, was enough to impress McDonald and give him belief that a big score is round the corner for Warner, who now has 8208 runs as Test opener – only four batters have more.

“The way that he moved in the second innings with the intent that he had, along with the first innings at The Oval in the World Test Championship Final, anyone watching that would say those movement patterns are good, the intent that he had, the way that he was going about it is the way we want him to play and put pressure back on to England,” McDonald opined.

“He didn’t get the big score that he wanted but I think he put a lot of pressure on them and at 70/0, he was looking pretty impressive then he feathers one through… There’s a big score around the corner, no doubt,” he added.

Even as Australia got the better of England and their uber-aggressive approach to the format, to take a crucial 1-0 lead in the series, McDonald refrained from deeming it a vindication for their contrasting style of play.

“No vindication, I think it should be more of a celebration,” McDonald said. “Two styles come together and produce a Test match like that. Certainly no vindication, we’ll go about it our way and England will go about it their way and we’ll see what happens at the end of the series.”

The teams next head to the English capital of London where they will play the second Test from June 28.

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