"Marnus has opening-itis": Usman Khawaja on the top-order batting slot
With Labuschagne playing at the No.3 position in the batting order, the left-handed batter believes it would be hazardous to move him ahead of the Pakistan series.
Australia opener Usman Khawaja believes there is no need to shift Marnus Labuschagne or anyone else to open once David Warner concludes his Test career, stating that given the difficulties of the task, a specialist should perform the job. With Labuschagne playing at the No.3 position in the batting order, the left-handed batter believes it would be hazardous to move him ahead of the Pakistan series.
Khawaja was asked about the possibility of Labuschagne being moved up to open the batting when Warner's Test career expires later this summer, most likely following the third Test against Pakistan in Sydney in the new year. "Have you asked Marnus this? I think he would give you a really clear, 'hell no'. Marnus has got opening-it is...I think that is a long shot," Khawaja was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
"Opening is not easy. It's tough work. I can tell you that because I've batted at [No.]1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 for Australia. I'm telling you by far opening is the hardest and it's very hard to bring someone who hasn't opened," he added. "I'm positive if you put Marnus up there at opening he would do very well. But would he do as well opening as he does at No.3? I'm not sure. I wouldn't want to take the risk [given he's] averaging 55 [56.81] at three and Steve Smith averages 60 [58.61] in general. So you wouldn't want to mess around with it too much," said the Australia Test opener.
"Opening can be a very, very tough thing to do mentally more than physically so I'm always a bit shy of not letting people who haven't opened much in the past open the batting," he further stated. Khawaja also dismissed the idea of Travis Head permanently going up to open after serving as a temporary opener in the Test series in India earlier this year while Warner was injured.
"He's done so well at No.5. There's no point in shifting around people. We have so many openers to pick from. I don't see any point shifting around players for the sake of it. I think people are talking about that because of Mitch Marsh and Cameron Green. But I think they're both going for the same spot. So decide who the better player is for that game at that time and then you worry about the rest of the team," Khawaja said. Australia will face Pakistan in a three-match Test series, with the first game starting on December 14.
Australia's First Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Lance Morris, Steve Smith, Mitch Starc, and David Warner. (ANI)
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