BIRMINGHAM: Batsman Marnus Labuschagne believes Australia will benefit from increased stability in their Ashes squad as they prepare to face England in the first Test of the series later this month.
The Australians take on India in the World Test Championship (WTC) final at the Oval in London on Wednesday before beginning the latest five-Test Ashes series against the English at Edgbaston on June 12.
The series comes four years after the old rivals shared a 2-2 draw on English soil, when the Australian team was in a state of flux following the return of former captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft to the squad.
The trio had been banned due to their involvement in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018 and, with those distractions behind them, Labuschagne is confident Australia will be better prepared.
“In 2019, we weren’t as set on the team and there was probably a lot more questions about people coming back in,” Labuschagne said.
“That was Steve, Dave and Cameron’s first entry back into Test cricket, there wasn’t that much stability, even with our bowlers.
“We played three or four different bowling attacks in three games, so there’s a lot more clarity around our team which I think creates that consistency ... It creates the preparation instead of people playing for spots and thinking that they’re vying for a position.
“Everyone knows where they sit, so we can prepare and get ourselves ready.”
Labuschagne’s Test career sparked to life during the 2019 series when he was introduced in the second Test at Lord’s as a concussion replacement for Smith, going on to score 59 runs in a drawn match.
He helped the Australians retain the Ashes before playing a prominent role in the 4-0 series victory over the English in Australia in 2021-22.
“In 2019, I felt like I almost had to prove to people I was good enough,” he said.
“For me now, it’s just about making sure I do my role in the side and work out ways to score runs, it doesn’t matter what the conditions are.
“Mentally I’m as hungry as ever and want us to win this series ... I really feel like we let one slip last time we were here, and hopefully we can amend that.”
Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2023