Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne are class players at top of their game: Pat Cummins

Written by Vishwas Gupta

Australian cricket stars Steven Smith and Marnus Labuschagne have been performing below their usual high standards in the ongoing Ashes series. Despite their exceptional track records, both players have struggled to make significant contributions in their 12 innings so far, with only one score over 50 – Smith’s impressive first-innings century at Lord’s.

This unexpected dip in form was particularly evident during the Edgbaston Test, where the pair collectively scored just 35 runs. However, despite this setback, Australia still managed to secure a victory. This has been a testament to the strength of the Australian team, which has managed to pull through even when their star players are under performing.

Smith, who entered the series with an Ashes average of 59.68 (65.08 in England), including a staggering 774-run series in 2019, has seen his returns drop to 31.66 heading into Old Trafford. Similarly, Labuschagne, who started the series with an average of 45.86, has seen his returns decrease to 24.00. This is a significant success for England’s attack, which has managed to keep two of Australia’s most formidable batsmen in check.

Labuschagne’s current run of eight innings without a half-century is the longest of his Test career, indicating a slump in form. However, their captain Pat Cummins remains optimistic about the pair’s prospects.

“I think both of those guys may have moved their hotel pillows into the nets over the last couple of days, the amount of time they’ve been spending in there,” Cummins said. “They’re both class players at the top of their game who don’t miss out too often. They’re both looking really good. Steve has scored two hundreds this tourâ€æI’m expecting big things from him as always.”

Despite their recent struggles, both Smith and Labuschagne have proven their worth on numerous occasions. Smith, in particular, has a remarkable record, having scored 32 Test and 12 One Day International centuries for Australia.

His batting average of 58.94 is the seventh-highest in Test cricket history. Labuschagne, on the other hand, has a respectable average of 55.14 and has played extensively in English conditions, averaging 55.52 for Glamorgan from 26 County Championship appearances.

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Vishwas Gupta