No pres­sure, but Mar­nus re­mains run-hun­gry

Mercury (Hobart) - - CRICKET -

FREE of con­cern about his Test spot, Mar­nus Labuschagn­e heads into the Sh­effield Shield match against West­ern Aus­tralia start­ing to­day in a good place.

The Queens­land bats­man has con­verted his Ashes form into a red-hot start to the do­mes­tic sum­mer, with three half­cen­turies from four shield in­nings. The left-han­der also top-scored with 87 off 89 de­liv­er­ies in Thurs­day’s one-day cup win over the War­riors on the Gold Coast, mean­ing he’s now scored 364 runs at 60.66 in that com­pe­ti­tion.

It’s form which en­sures he’s a lock for the first Test team against Pak­istan in Bris­bane later this month, a sit­u­a­tion the 25-year-old both en­joys and is wary of.

“It’s al­ways nice when you have that bit of free­dom, but that can al­ways be a neg­a­tive some­times be­cause you can al­most re­lax too much and not put the runs on the board,” Labuschagn­e said.

While his Test spot is in no doubt, there are plenty of play­ers from both teams who will be hop­ing to use the Gabba match to press claims.

Bulls cap­tain Us­man Khawaja and opener Joe Burns missed out in Thurs­day’s 50over Met­ri­con Sta­dium con­test and know only big scores will force them into se­lec­tor’s thoughts.

For­mer Test opener Matt Ren­shaw will miss the match with the same ill­ness which ruled him out of the one-day game, with Mark Steke­tee to re­place him in the Bulls squad.

An­other cou­ple of ex-Test play­ers, WA duo Cameron Ban­croft and Shaun Marsh, could also force their way into Aus­tralia dis­cus­sions with good dis­plays against the Bulls.

The pair put to­gether a 152run third-wicket stand in Thurs­day’s one-day match be­fore WA lost 8-53 and the game. Ban­croft made 72, his third 70-plus lim­ited-overs score this sum­mer.

The right-han­der’s shield form has how­ever been less im­pres­sive.

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