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The Liebke Ratings: Australia vs Pakistan second Test

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2nd December, 2019
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For the second time in as many Tests, Australia defeated Pakistan by an innings and, as a result, reclaimed the Lillee-Miandad Trophy by two innings and 53 runs.

Here are the ratings for the second Test between Australia and Pakistan.

Marnus Labuschagne

Grade: B+
Tim Paine won the toss and Joe Burns was dismissed early for four. Burns’ selflessness provided an excellent opening for Steve Smith to get a cheap confidence boost by not being the lowest run-scorer in an innings. Outstanding team man is Burns.

Unfortunately for Smith, however, David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne then proceeded to bat for the rest of the day. So dominant were the pair that before the first day ended, CricViz gave Pakistan a zero per cent chance of winning the Test. And that felt high.

And all this came despite the umpires cruelly warning Labuschagne about standing in the danger zone while batting. Unreasonable stuff from the match officials. As if everything about Marnus isn’t already wholly embodied by the danger zone. The magnificent Marnus would eventually make his second consecutive score of 150-plus.

Where were you when Jofra Archer discovered Australia’s next great number three?

Marnus Labuschagne poses at Headingley

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Confusion

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Grade: D-
The ability of Labuschagne and Warner to bat the entire first day was also helped by the rain that wiped out multiple overs of play.

Unfortunately for television viewers, the ongoing rain delays throughout the Test and attempts to make up the associated lost time, combined with the inherent lack of familiarity with the schedule of a day-night Test, meant that at no point was it possible to discern when play would end.

At one stage it seemed feasible that Warner and Labuschagne would just keep batting through the night.

And next Test we have the confusion of Perth time zones to add to the day-night Test mix. It will be the Spanish Inquisition version of Test cricket, with play springing into existence whenever Australian fans least expect it.

Nobody expects the Western Australian day-night Test.

Disrespecting Bradman

Grade: C
Eventually Labuschagne was inexplicably dismissed, allowing Smith to come to the crease. The former Australian captain proceeded to outscore Burns, as planned. More impressively, he soon outscored Bradman, in the process reaching 7000 Test runs faster than anybody before him.

It should be made clear that this was a cumulative tally for Smith. He didn’t make 7000 runs this innings. That would be crazy, even allowing for the toothlessness of Pakistan’s attack.

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Somebody who was on target for 7000 runs in a single innings, however, was David Warner. The opener surged his way to a triple century and then passed both Mark Taylor and Bradman’s highest Test scores of 334.

But before Warner could set his sights on Matthew Hayden’s 380 or Brian Lara’s 400, Tim Paine declared the innings closed.

Fair play to Paine. His disdain for Tubby and Bradman combined with an all-encompassing respect for Hayden was a genuinely unexpected plot twist.

Of course, being cricket, some people deemed it disrespectful to Bradman for Warner to have surpassed him. I couldn’t agree more. Frankly, he should have stopped when he realised he was outscoring Labuschagne.

David Warner

(AAP Image/David Mariuz)

Instead, Warner now joins Lara, Hayden, Lara (again), Mahela Jayawardene, Garfield Sobers, Len Hutton, Sanath Jayasuriya, Hanif Mohammad and Wally Hammond in cricket’s Roll Call of Shame.

Personally, I’m proud to say I’ve never once scored more than 334 in a Test match innings. It’s called humility, Dave.

Although perhaps we’ve got this all wrong. Maybe Paine, realising Shaheen Afridi had taken the first three Australian wickets to fall, declared the innings closed to prevent Afridi from disrespecting Jim Laker and Anil Kumble by matching their record of taking all ten wickets in an innings.

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Yasir Shah

Grade: A
With Australia having declared on a disrespectful 3/589, Smith and Warner both took early chances in the slip cordon, immediately breaking Bradman’s record for most catches taken in that Pakistan innings.

Paine then displayed similar contempt to Burns at first slip by diving in front of him to pilfer his catch, before Mitchell Starc returned to upstage Bradman yet again by taking two wickets in consecutive balls, something the Don famously never once did in his career.

But just as the Test looked to be descending into a comic farce of one-up-Bradmanship, it suddenly transformed into a different kind of farce entirely.

That’s because Yasir Shah decided to delight everybody by scoring his first Test century. Before this match, there’d been some discussion about Yasir’s seven-fingered send-off to Smith in the first Test, inspired by the fact that the Pakistan leg-spinner had taken the number one ranked batsman’s wicket seven times.

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What would Yasir do if he got Smith out for an eighth time? Maybe he’d celebrate by throwing an octopus at him. Alas, we never found out as he instead finished with the unlucky figures of 0/197.

Still, at least he wiped out 113 of those runs with the bat in what was easily the best innings of the entire Test.

Using your head

Grade: B+
Despite Yasir’s batting heroics, Pakistan were asked to follow on, and marched their way to an inevitable defeat by, oh, let’s say halfway through the fourth day/night. Although, again, who knows? Maybe it was the last over before stumps.

The highlight of that entire final day/night came, of course, from Marnus Labuschagne, who while fielding in close almost successfully headed a catch to a teammate.

It was a great example of an individual Australian cricketer using their head. A good thing too, because the team as a whole refused to use their Head at all, as Travis finished the Test without batting, bowling or taking a catch. Exactly the same impact on this Test as Bradman. A remarkable show of respect.