Marnus Labuschagne scored his maiden double century as Australia dominated the Sydney Test against New Zealand. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Marnus Labuschagne ended 2019 as the leading run-getter for Australia in Tests and the right-hander started the new decade in grand fashion with a magnificent double ton on day 2 of the Sydney Test against Australia on Saturday. Resuming on 128, Labuschagne was in great rhythm and he tackled the spinners wonderfully by going past 150. He went past his highest score in Tests in streaky fashion by edging Matt Henry for a boundary to third man. On 199, Labuschagne notched up his first double century by edging Colin de Grandhomme for a boundary to third man and his joy was there for everyone to see. However, on 215, Labuschagne chipped a legbreak from Todd Astle that stopped on him back to the bowler.
Labuschagne became the ninth Australian player to score a double century in Tests at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Michael Clarke is the only player to score a triple century at the venue when he smashed 329 against India in the 2012 Test. Apart from Clarke, the other players apart from Labuschagne who have hit double tons are Doug Walters, Sid Barnes, Don Bradman, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting, Greg Chappell and Syd Gregory. Gregory was the first Australian player to hit a double ton at the Sydney Cricket Ground when he smashed 201 against England in 1894.
Walters hit 242 against the West Indies in the 1969 Test while Bradman and Barnes hit identical scores of 234 in the same Test against England in 1946. Both batsmen shared a partnership of 405 runs for the fifth wicket which was a world record at that time. Langer, the current coach of the Australian cricket team, had smashed 223 against India in 2000 while Ponting hit 207 against Pakistan in 2005. Labuschagne's individual score took him past Ponting, Chappell and Gregory put him sixth in the list of Australian players for the highest individual score at the venue.
Apart from Australian batsmen, there have been six overseas players who have hit double centuries at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Reginald Tip Foster was the first overseas player to smash a double ton when he smashed 287 against Australia in 1903. The remarkable thing in the knock was that he achieved it on debut. Brian Lara has the second-highest individual score for an overseas player at the venue when he hit 277 in the 1993 Test. Wally Hammond of England smashed 251 in the 1928 and 231* in the 1936 Test. Hammond is the only overseas player to have hit two double centuries at the same venue.
There are two Indian players in the list. Sachin Tendulkar's disciplined knock of 241 in 2004 saw him playing no drives to the off side while Ravi Shastri was the first Indian player to smash a double ton at the Sydney Cricket Ground during the 1992 Test. Labuschagne's appetite for big runs has already seen him make an impact in the first match of the new decade and the focus now will be on how consistent he becomes in the longest format of the game.