Behind the laughter with Marnus Labuschagne

Looking at the backstory of the viral dismissal.

This is a weird position to be in on a cricket field.

Lying out of your crease, one foot towards gully, the other at the stumps, in a drunk yoga pose, looking back at your broken wickets.  To get into a position like this, a lot of things have to happen, and they did.

This is arguably an impossible position to have your feet aiming. It’s as if these are two different legs photoshopped together. Or perhaps this is a fight between two independent llimbs, with one about to sweep the other to the ground.

And lest you think I have just picked one or two embarrassing images, it may in fact not be the worst one I could have shown you. How about this.

Some cricket parody of crouching tiger, hidden drag-on.

But I want to take this back for a moment to the over before when Marnus Labuschagne did not fall on his face while being bowled by Stuart Broad.

On the first ball of that Broad over, you see something quite clear.

Labuschagne has moved way across his stumps. There is batting on off stump, there is having a trigger movement across, and then there is moving so far that not even your squatting arse can cover leg. This is an extreme position to be in during a Test match on a pitch seaming around.

And after surviving a drop - another one - Labusachagne was batting really well.  The pitch had settled after the initial sideways help. The ball seemed to be softening. And Travis Head was whacking them at the other end. There was seemingly no reason for Labuschagne to get into this position before the ball is bowled.

Now if he was doing this every ball, you could say that he had a tactic that worked right up until the moment he fell on his face. But no, that is not what Labuschagne was doing at all. This is the ball after the one I just showed you.

Labuschagne has done two things here, the first is taken a step and a half down the wicket. Like Dean Jones in a 90’s ODI. That in itself is quite weird. But his step and half has also brought him to outside leg stump. In the last two balls of this over, he has showed his entire stumps on two sides of his body.

I don’t fully know how to process that, the level of risk he was taking here was  really quite bizarre.  Australia were 12/3, and he had taken them to 79/3. England went from bowling well to spraying the ball, losing their tactics and getting lost. The aggressive style had served him well, but this is beyond aggressive isn’t it. Now it’s reckless.

The rest of the over is actually pretty chill, a collection of normal positions for Labuschagne to find himself in.

So it was just the first two balls that were odd, and then he settles down. Until the first ball of the following over, where he falls down.

I went back to look at another over as well, when he faced Ollie Robinson, who delivered  an incredible over.

Landing the ball on the sam sport with the balls that went in, out and straight. And here is Labuschagne playing all six of them.

You can see in all six of these he is still moved across, in a few you can see his leg stump, in others you can’t.  But it’s fairly normal modern Steve Smith inspired off stump batting. In this Labuschagne was dropped and also beaten.

So what changed in his batting between the two. Because this:

Doesn’t look like this:

Despite the fact that both are at similar release moments. The first one is Robinson in his good over, and the second is Broad when he bowled him.

You can see several differences. Look at where the bats are. One is straight up, and the other is coming from slip. There seems to be a change with the body position as well, with Labuschagne being more squatted. There is the feet, they are lined up fairly straight in the first ball, and they’re open by the second. And there is the position, his back foot is now wide of off stump, after being on it for the Robinson ball.

But while this is the wicket ball, you can see all this same pattern in a delivery earlier from Chris Woakes.

I think the change is partially due to what cricketers might describe as “his beans are going”. He wants to attack, he’s probably thinking he’s in the same position, but it’s all gone a bit nutso.

That said, even comparing Woakes to Broad, his bat is even more angled, his back foot even wide, and his squat even squattier.

The real question is why he started getting into such exaggerated positions for the two balls in the previous over, and the one he was bowled and fell on his face. Was it just adrenaline, I mean the backing away to dance down the wicket is such a bizarre moment.

But let’s just look at the wicket ball. You can see he simply stops across the ball.

It hasn’t yet pitched here, and he’s already played for a cover drive. This is a bit like the Rory Burns dismissal to Mitchell Starc at the start of the Ashes.

Then he suddenly realises he’s in the shit.

So he tries to play a shot from where he finds himself.  And he ends up in just the weird position. Like he’s in a 1950s Hollywood musical dancing with a cane.

From that position, like anyone, he is just nowhere near this, and obviously misses it.

Gets bowled.

And bowled over.

The best bit is we all assumed he slipped, but when you look at the footage, he doesn’t.

Look at his feet, both are solidly on the floor with their spikes.

Even as he is bowled his feet are solid.

But because his head falls over so much, and his legs are barely related to each other.

He’s also trying to turn around behind him, because he had to just to even see the ball. Then he ever turns more to see whether he has been bowled.

And then he fell. Glorious madness from one of the oddest in the game. That all this happened to the man who has made so many runs in the last few years just makes the entire thing better.

This isn’t some tail ender. This is the bloke making bowlers look silly for a decent period now. And this is also him right on his face.

Off the field he played it far better.