Labuschagne gives Australia golden start

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 Labuschagne gives Australia golden start
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Australia have cast aside talk of cricket's great generational divide with the current stars emulating past greats in setting up their own dominant start to the summer against West Indies.

With the focus finally back on the pitch after a build up dominated by headlines around Justin Langer's exit, an unbeaten Marnus Labuschagne century ensured Australia took full command by going to stumps on 2-293.

Labuschagne was the main star, hitting 154 as he featured in century stands with both Usman Khawaja (65) and Steve Smith (59no).

Searing under the Perth heat, this had all the hallmarks of the start of an Australian summer from the early 2000s when Langer and his teammates were dominating world cricket.

Already the hosts appear the only team able to win the Frank Worrell Trophy opener after Wednesday's play, with West Indies showing good signs early before their bowling withered under the sun.

The touring spinner again copped the most damage, with Rolson Chase going for 0-63 off 15 overs as he too often bowled wide of off-stump with a legside field set.

And it came after it started all so brightly for West Indies, when David Warner was bowled for five by Jayden Seales (1-63) and Alzarri Joseph was rushing batsmen on the back foot. 

Then Labuschagne and Khawaja took over, grinding out the first session before capitalising after lunch.

Despite being hit on the hand early by Joseph and edging two straight boundaries from Seales, some of Labuschagne's strokeplay was brilliant in his eighth Test ton.

He clipped the ball nicely off his toes and produced a sweet drive off Joseph for one of his 16 boundaries.

Another came when he jumped down the deck to hit Chase for four late in the first session, in his first real signal of intent.

But his shot of the day came when he hooked Joseph over fine leg for six.

Labuschagne's century was timely after making single-figure scores in his last four red-ball innings leading into the Test.

Now, it looks like another dominant summer awaits.

The same can be said for Smith.

Small technical changes had him looking in imposing form in the one-day series against England, and that carried into the Test.

He barely offered up a chance in his knock and was able to punish the West Indies' bowlers when they were too full or wide.

Khawaja, meanwhile, also looked good for his 65, before he edged off Kyle Mayers (1-24) just before tea to be denied his fifth ton in a remarkable 2022.

Warner will therefore be one of the few Australians disappointed with their day after chopping on early, knowing runs are crucial this summer.

Organisers too, would be unhappy with only 10,929 people in attendance for the first day of the summer at Optus Stadium.


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