Aaron Finch talks about how 'highly skilled' Marnus Labuschange and Steve Smith cracked the white ball code
In the lead-up to the highly anticipated Cricket World Cup, Australian cricket stars Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne have adopted a strategic shift that promises to make them even more formidable on the international stage. According to former captain Aaron Finch, this shift is driven by the evolving nature of One Day International (ODI) cricket, which increasingly resembles the high-paced, aggressive style seen in Twenty20 cricket.
Historically, both Smith and Labuschagne were known for their ability to accumulate centuries in Test cricket, but their approach in ODIs had often been more conservative. The duo tended to prioritize setting a solid platform for big scores, which sometimes slowed down the innings during the middle overs.
However, as the 2023 Cricket World Cup approaches, Smith and Labuschagne are adapting to the demands of modern ODI cricket. Aaron Finch, who has witnessed this transformation firsthand, praised the duo's remarkable skills and their willingness to embrace a more aggressive mindset.
“Steve and Marnus are both ridiculously high-skilled,” Finch told. “All it is is changing that mindset slightly away from ‘Right, I’m top four, I’ve got to get a big hundred to have an impact on the game’.
Finch explained that the key to their shift in approach is to focus less on scoring centuries and more on early intent and momentum building. Instead of aiming for a big individual score, they aim to get off to a brisk start, which not only keeps the momentum flowing but also benefits the incoming batsmen.
Smith and Labuschagne's adaptability have been key
Finch emphasized that both Smith and Labuschagne possess exceptional skills and can easily adapt to this new mindset.
“Sometimes it isn’t the big hundred, sometimes it’s the intent you show at the start of the innings that gets you to 25 off 20 balls, continues that momentum and makes it easier on the next guy coming in, makes it easier on your partner at the other end who might be going as well. So it’s just a mindset shift in that way.
Smith and Labuschagne's adaptability is crucial because they are not brute force hitters but rather skillful touch players who can use their hands effectively. The key to their success lies in playing to their strengths and not trying to replicate the style of power hitters who rely on fours and sixes to compensate for a higher dot ball percentage.
The Australian team, led by captain Pat Cummins, is set to face India in its tournament opener in Chennai. While the hosts may potentially miss their prolific opener Shubman Gill due to illness, Australia appears well-prepared with Smith and Labuschagne's tactical evolution. Their ability to balance their natural skills with the needs of modern ODI cricket could be a significant asset in Australia's quest for World Cup glory.