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The Roar


The Liebke Report Card: 'Weird that Marnus let Warner borrow his 'luckiest batter in the world' gig'

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6th January, 2024
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To the SCG for David Warner’s farewell, which must have felt like a dream for the veteran opener.

In particular, one of those dreams in which you’re back at high school, taking your final tests. Or one where you realise you’re out in public not wearing any clothes.

Or, in Warner’s case, a combination thereof, where you’re in your final Test, but not wearing your (briefly missing) baggy green.

Here’s the report card for the third Test between Australia and Pakistan.

Silver Ducks

Grade: D-

Pakistan had their own nightmares to deal with, winning the toss and electing to bat, then, within eight balls, carelessly losing each of their openers from the second ball they respectively faced. 


A less than ideal start from Pakistan’s perspective, but one that raised an important question: if 0(1) is a golden duck, is 0(2) a silver duck?

Pakistan floundered their way to 4-75 at lunch, before there was a counter-attack via that gorgeous maniac Mohammad Rizwan, who blasted 88 (103).

Australia, therefore, changed plans. Pat Cummins instructed his fielders to hold signs saying ‘free runs here – will not catch’, and the naive Pakistan batters steadily fell into the trap. Because it turned out the runs weren’t free, and the fielders would catch. 

But just when it seemed as if this devious ploy from the unscrupulous Cummins would see Pakistan all out for under 250, Aamer Jamal cobbled together a sign of his own.

His sign? ‘Free wicket here – will not hit bouncers for six or frustratingly farm the strike as I add 86 for the last wicket, scoring 82(97) of my own, batting at nine and seeing Pakistan to 313 before being last man out, giving Warner one over to face before stumps.’

So also deceptive but, y’know, a lot wordier. Still, to Jamal’s credit, great penmanship.

Aamer Jamal

Aamer Jamal (Photo by Jason McCawley – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)


Transferable Probability Hexes

Grade: B+

Warner resumed on the second day, looking to bid farewell in the style we’ve come to expect from him. By which, of course, I mean edging to slip where a Pakistan fielder inexplicably drops him.

Come on, Pakistan. ‘Slip’ is just the name of the fielding position. It’s not an instruction on what you’re supposed to do with any chances that come that way.

Remember a couple of years back when the stats used to show that Marnus Labuschagne was the luckiest batter in the world in terms of chances being dropped off him? Weird that he let Warner borrow that from him. But also kinda lovely?

Eventually, however, the umpires took the players off for bad light, much to the fury of the crowd, the commentators and the crowd members dressed up as commentators.

It later turned out that the umpires’ light meter was broken, so they’d instead reverted to using their best judgement on how dark it was. Like animals. Disgusting. 


Nevertheless, whenever the umpires go off for bad light (or, in this case, bad light meter) they should also be required to point at the sky and chastise it like a naughty puppy.

“BAD light. Very BAD light. BAD. No!”

It might make them hesitate just a little longer.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 04: Umpires Michael Gough and Richard Illingworth speak with Reserve Umpire Claire Polosak as play is delayed to due light conditions during day two of the Men's Third Test Match in the series between Australia and Pakistan at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 04, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mike Owen - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Umpires Michael Gough and Richard Illingworth. (Photo by Mike Owen – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Small Pieces of Black Plastic

Grade: D

The third day began with Steve Smith and Labuschagne doing their thing (i.e., being a pair of odd little batting-obsessed weirdos). At one point, Smith decided he was distracted by a rolled-up piece of black tape on the sight screen and made everybody wait for about ten minutes until a brave hero removed it. So, y’know, that kind of stuff.


Suddenly, however, Smith got bored with chipping away at Pakistan’s lead, and decided he’d instead chip away at a ball outside off stump, hitting it straight to Babar Azam, one of three close-in cover fielders.

Classic Smith. He can spot a small piece of plastic at the other end of the ground yet not notice an actual fielder standing a dozen metres from him.

Knowledgeable Crowds

Grade: B-

Labuschagne swiftly followed Smith back to the dressing room. He even justified it by being out to a ball from Agha Salman that turned sharply. But when Marsh and Alex Carey were out in the middle, batting comfortably in an 84-run partnership, it looked as if Australia would spend the rest of the day amassing a match-winning lead.

Instead, they suddenly lost 5/10 to finish on 299 all out, thanks primarily to Jamal, who took 6/69, figures that saw him clapped off the ground by the knowledgeable SCG crowd.


At least, we assume they’re knowledgeable. But why assume in this day and age? We can do better than speculate on such matters based simply on the timing and amount of applause.

Why not instead force spectators to take cricket trivia quizzes on the way into the ground and accumulate the results so we know exactly how knowledgeable they are? Let’s get some science into this.

Alternatively, why not a University Challenge-style show pitting various crowds from around the world against one another? I’m already a big fan of the idea of the Narendra Modi Stadium crowd enthusiastically buzzing in on every Virat Kohli question, but otherwise being eerily silent.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 03: Aamer Jamal of Pakistan plays a shot during day one of the Men's Third Test Match in the series between Australia and Pakistan at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 03, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Aamer Jamal plays a shot during day one of the Third Test between Australia and Pakistan in Sydney. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Josh Hazlewowowod

Grade: C

Pakistan began their second innings fourteen runs ahead, looking to set Australia a challenging fourth innings chase on a pitch that was becoming tricki—


Oh, they’ve lost a pair of wickets in their opening two overs again. That’s careless.

Still, despite that early setback, the experience of Babar Azam and the exuberance of Saim Ayub can surely combine in a half-century partnership full of what I like to call ‘expubiance’ to once again raise hop—

Oh, they’re both out to spin now. Annoying.

Nevertheless, Pa—

Oh, FFS. Here comes Josh Hazlewood.

And not just everyday Josh Hazlewood. A terrifying, just before stumps, triple wicket maiden-bowling Josh Hazlewowowod, who, in the blink of an over, reduced Pakistan to 7/68, ending any chance the visitors had of winning this Test.

Even more cruel? He also ended any chance of Cummins picking up a fourth consecutive five-wicket haul. Monster.


The next day, Australia finished off the Pakistan tail, leaving themselves 130 to chase, which they chased down for the loss of just two wickets.

Sports opinion delivered daily 


Warner received another guard of honour (a second guard of honour? In this economy?) and proceeded to smack a half-century, only denied a farewell ton by Labuschagne’s thoughtless 62*.

Oh, and also Sajid Khan, who trapped him LBW for 57.