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How good is Marnus Labuschagne?

CricViz analysis features in this week’s Telegraph newsletter, assessing Marnus Labuschagne’s start to his Test career.

Last summer when Marnus Labuschagne was asked about the challenge of replacing his idol and the world’s best batsman Steve Smith in Australia’s middle order he laughed the question off.  “He’s too good to even think about that; he averages 63”. 

Nine months later Labuschagne has now played 14 Tests and his Test average, remarkably, sits at 63.43 – fractionally above Smith’s.

So just how good is Marnus Labuschagne? In this week’s Telegraph newsletter Tim Wigmore asks that question and – using numbers from the CricViz database, including our red ball match impact – seeks to put the outstanding start to his Test career in context.

“In his stunning past nine months, Labuschagne has stood out whatever the challenge he has faced in Test cricket,” writes Wigmore. “CricViz have a metric called batting impact, which measures a batsman’s contribution per innings against those of other batsmen in the match – in other words, how many runs a batsmen averages compared to a “normal” replacement player. Labuschagne is top of this list, with an average positive impact of 33 runs per innings – even higher than Smith’s 29 and Virat Kohli’s 23.”

Wigmore continues: “another measure, measuring a batsmen’s average against that of the match average, shows the same, with Labuschagne once again on top.”

Labuschagne has still only played 14 Tests. Yet, every indication is that he will enjoy a prolonged Test career. Since his Ashes debut, Labuschagne has been very, very good but he hasn’t been particularly lucky; his false shot percentage in this time is barely higher than his idol Smith. Though he has only played two Tests in Asia, so far, Labuschagne’s Test record is actually even better against spin than pace – his average of 60 against pace climbs to an extraordinary 80 against spin.”

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