Aussies begin badly



Stuff NZ Newspapers


Australia were 85-4 after an actionpacked opening session of the fifth Ashes test in Hobart, where Marnus Labuschagne fought back then fell down in bizarre fashion. Australia crashed to 12-3 in 10 overs on a green pitch after losing the toss, reliving their nightmarish start to the previous test at Bellerive in 2016. England’s quicks failed to maintain the pressure, prompting Labuschagne (44) and Travis Head (31 not out) to counter-punch in a brisk 71-run partnership. But Labuschagne’s not-so-fancy footwork brought about his downfall in the penultimate over of the session, shifting momentum yet again. The world’s No.1 test batter, who exhibited remarkable aggression throughout his 53-ball knock given the match situation and conditions, stepped to the off side while trying to give himself room. Stuart Broad’s delivery proceeded to hit middle stump, while Labuschagne slipped over. Labuschagne, the leading runscorer of this series, should have been dismissed for a duck during the early carnage. Recalled paceman Ollie Robinson, who removed David Warner and Steve Smith for ducks in an inspired opening spell, found Labuschagne’s edge in the eighth over. Zak Crawley, stationed at second slip, dived in front of Root and grassed the catch. The visitors’ early dominance, in the closest they have come to English-like conditions on this tour, was sparked by testing spells from Ollie Robinson and Broad. Usman Khawaja and Warner held out until the sixth over, when the latter’s tortured 22-ball stint at the crease ended with an edge the sailed straight to Crawley. Khawaja (6) was also out edging, caught at first slip by Joe Root off the bowling of Broad. Smith was undone by a delivery that reared off a good length and flicked the shoulder of his bat, with Crawley accepting the resultant edge. It marked the first time that Warner and Smith both failed to trouble the scorers in a test innings. Robinson was one of five inclusions for England who overhauled their XI.