There is no way I wanted to get off the field: Marnus Labuschagne
Marnus Labuschagne (AFP Photo)

On Day 3 of the Lord’s Test, Marnus Labuschagne was in shock after witnessing teammate Steve Smith being felled by a brutal Jofra Archer bouncer.

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He was sitting in the Australia dressing room when Smith, after a brief examination, was removed from the field. He would later return, add 12 more runs to his innings before being adjudged lbw.

A few hours later, Labuschagne was batting in the nets, facing Australia quicks Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson when captain Tim Paine walked in and asked him to step in.

READ: Labuschagne and Solanki, international cricket’s first substitutes

Smith was taken off due to concussion with Labuschagne taking his place, meaning he was to become the Test cricket’s first ever like-to-like substitution.

Fast forward to Australia innings. Labuschange walked in at 6th over as Australia lost two quick wickets to Archer.

Given the impact Smith has had made so far in the ongoing Ashes series batting at No. 4, Labuschange understood the importance of his batting position.

But two deliveries into his innings and Archer had delivered another searing bouncer, crashing flush on the grill. The scenes during Smith blow were repeated – England fielders sprinting to check on their Australian opponent while team doctor Richard Saw rushing to the middle to carry out his mandatory checks. Thankfully, everything was fine.

As it would turn out, the 24-year-old would make a fighting half-century, playing a vital role in ensuring the Test ended in a draw and Australia retain their 1-0 lead.

“You kind of just want to stay calm and make sure you answer his (doctor’s) questions properly,” Labuschagne was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo as he explained the aftermath of the blow. “I was like, ‘I know where I am; I’m good, I’m good, just get off the field’, but there’s a process now. There is no way I wanted to get off the field. I wanted to stay in the contest. Getting to play at Lord’s is a pretty great experience.”

He added, “In my case, I was lucky enough. I was feeling fine – I just jumped the gun a bit on the questions. I was like, ‘Look, I know where I am; I know what Test it is; I’m on zero, and it was a fast bouncer’. You just want to make sure you’re ready, that you listen to and follow their instructions – [that] is the key. Ninety-eight percent of the time they’re going to make great decisions and, if you have to come off, it’s obviously because you’re not all right.”

He prefers to be in the thick of the contest rather than being a mere spectator as it’s less nerve-wracking. “Personally, being out there is probably less nerve-racking than being off the field. When he got hit, I had a bit of a sick feeling; you’re kind of helpless. But when you’re out there, you’re in the contest and the adrenaline is rushing – pretty much all you’re doing is trying to watch that ball,” he said.

Labuschagne gave an example of his temperament, possibly even laying a claim to be included in the remainder of the series in the first XI rather than as a substitute.

He consumed 100 deliveries and struck eight fours and was out in controversial circumstances with England captain Joe Root claiming a low catch with third umpire ruling in England’s favour.

“The decision was final obviously. As a fielder, sometimes you feel like you’ve caught it and that may have been the case. But, definitely, when I saw it on replay I was like, ‘It looks like it bounced, but I’m not an umpiring professional so we’ll leave it to them’. I’m just disappointed to get out that way to put us under a little bit of pressure. So that was disappointing from my end,” he said.