Tons go begging for Ashes hopefuls
THE disappointment of not making a century that could help secure a Test berth for Marnus Labuschagne was softened by the commanding position his team was in as the Sheffield Shield season resumed.
After 75 days, the longest break in a Shield season that wasn't stopped due to war, the Dukes ball was in play and the audition process began for Ashes spots as Queensland took on Victoria at Junction Oval on Saturday.
The visitors finished Day 1 4-308 against the ladder-leading Vics and an attack that worked hard for little reward as the English ball refused to hoop around corners as expected.
Labuschagne made 59 - after Test opener Joe Burns was out for 60 - and the triple-figure scores that were so hard for Australia's batsmen to achieve this summer again went begging.
Burns, who made a powerful 180 against Sri Lanka in his Test return earlier this month, remains without a hundred at Shield level this season, but is a near certainty to tour England later this year.
Labuschagne, who has just one 50 in his five Tests and no hundreds this summer, anywhere, remains in Ashes limbo with David Warner and Steve Smith soon to return.
He was disappointed with when, and how he got out on a sunny Saturday, but not because of anything other than its impact on the game he is playing right now.
Labuschagne, whose last triple-figure score came last summer, was out three balls before tea, trying to hit a third ball in a row for four off part-time spinner Matt Short.
"I don't usually get out caught at mid-on trying to hit a six a couple of balls before a break. It was pretty disappointing from me with game awareness," he said.
"I felt really good out there, the wicket was nice and true. There was a bit of swing … but it was a beautiful wicket to bat on.
"But take the personal side out of it. It was disappointing to leave the team in a position where Jimmy (Peirson) has to come in and face the new ball at a time when we could have been cashing in. I let the team down a little bit there."
Wannabe Test opener Matt Renshaw, who averaged 73 against the Dukes ball last season, remains in the same boat as his teammates, without a hundred this season after being dismissed for an unconvincing 29.
The Junction Oval wicket didn't offer a lot for the Victorian attack but Scott Boland, who was the best of the bowlers, said there was every chance, with the Dukes ball swinging just enough that his side could still roll Queensland for "around 360" and stay in the game.