Marnus Labuschagne Portrait Session
Marnus Labuschagne Portrait Session

Heat doesn’t deserve you, Marnus

Don't do it Marnus. They're not worthy.

That's what Australian cricket fans should be saying to Marnus Labuschagne amid talk that he will be rushed straight into the Brisbane Heat side for Thursday's must-win Big Bash match against the Sydney Sixers.

That is if Justin Langer hasn't said it already.

 

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Seriously, do we really want the country's best young batting talent coming into contact with whatever it is that is infecting the Heat?

Oh sure, you might think that Labuschagne will be immune after the last few months he's had, but look at what the Heat has done to AB de Villiers in just five days.

He marched into Brisbane like Julius Caesar into Gaul, the conquering hero ready to put the Heat's opponents to the sword.

"The greatest batsman in the world," the ground announcer at the Gabba bellowed to the adoring crowd last Tuesday - and AB delivered.

 

 

He’s the best young batting talent Australia has seen for years. Can we risk him catching Heat fever? Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images
He’s the best young batting talent Australia has seen for years. Can we risk him catching Heat fever? Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images

 

 

Just hours after his arrival he smashed 40 runs from 32 balls, guiding his new teammates to a comfortable win over the Adelaide Strikers.

If the Heat management had any idea they would have kept him isolated from the rest of the team for the remainder of the season but oh no, they made the mistake of letting him go to training, meet the boys and, worst of all, get immersed in the team culture.

Two matches and a total of four runs and a crucial dropped catch later he's as clueless as the rest of them.

And that's saying something.

I've never seen anything like Sunday's performance against the last-placed Melbourne Renegades.

Actually, that a stupid thing to say. Nobody's seen anything like it. It's never happened before.

How can you go from 0-86 to all out for 120 10 overs later?

 

 

A dejected AB de Villiers walks from the Gabba after being clean-bowled for two against the Renegades on Sunday night. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty Images
A dejected AB de Villiers walks from the Gabba after being clean-bowled for two against the Renegades on Sunday night. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty Images

 

 

Don't try to answer that. Heat captain Chris Lynn can't, so what hope are the rest of us?

"It was a piss-poor effort … a trainwreck," was all he could offer, speaking for all of us who had sat through it, not believing what we were seeing.

It would be too easy to blame the whole concept of Twenty20 cricket; the reckless smash and hope attitude that the old-timers warned would destroy the fabric of the game when it first reared its flashy head.

It will be the death of skilful batting, they said. It will seduce youngsters more interested in pocketing the cash on offer in India than in earning a baggy green cap, they said.

And they were right of course. It has done those things, and more.

But the spectacular growth of the Big Bash and other Twenty20 tournaments around the world can't be held responsible for what we witnessed in the Heat's lemming-like loss to the Renegades or the Strikers the previous Friday.

 

 

Renegades captain Dan Christian celebrates the wicket of Ben Cutting as the rot continues for the Heat on Sunday night. Picture: Darren England/AAP
Renegades captain Dan Christian celebrates the wicket of Ben Cutting as the rot continues for the Heat on Sunday night. Picture: Darren England/AAP

 

After all, other teams seem to be able to get through twenty overs without throwing their wickets away like old Christmas wrapping.

No, it has to be something deeper, more insidious. A disease, a virus. Contagious irresponsibility, terminal lack of awareness.

On Sunday, after "greatest batsman in the world" de Villiers had been made to look like a hungover fifth-grader by spinner Cameron Boyce, Matt Renshaw strode to the wicket to steady the ship.

Up in the commentary box Ricky Ponting summed up the situation in a trice.

"What the Renegades should do now …" he said, and outlined the ball Boyce should bowl and the field Melbourne captain Dan Christian should set.

Christian moved Shaun Marsh precisely where Ponting had said, Boyce sent down a delivery exactly as predicted by Ponting, and Renshaw edged it straight into Marsh's hands.

 

 

Samit Patel (second from left) of the Renegades is congratulated by teammates after the run out of Joe Burns. Picture: Darren England AAP
Samit Patel (second from left) of the Renegades is congratulated by teammates after the run out of Joe Burns. Picture: Darren England AAP

 

Which raises the question: if Ponting, Boyce, Christian and Marsh all knew what was about to happen, shouldn't someone in the Heat camp have worked it out as well?

And don't get me started on the Joe Burns run-out.

After the Heat took a time-out to try unsuccessfully to stop the rot, their coach Darren "Boof" Lehmann told the Fox commentators, "Well, it's pretty obvious what's needed …"

Maybe he should start by hiring that young kid who caught the ball on the boundary to help de Villiers with his fielding.

And, for the sake of Australian cricket, make sure Marnus Labuschagne is fully inoculated against whatever it is that is affecting the Heat before he joins the squad.



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