Marnus Labuschagne has fallen agonisingly short of becoming the fourth cricketer to score a double century in a Sheffield Shield final.
The Queenslander was removed by New South Wales paceman Sean Abbott for 192 on Saturday afternoon as the hosts registered 389 at Allan Border Field, securing a first innings lead of 246.
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Labuschagne lasted 353 balls at the crease, cracking 21 boundaries in his marathon innings which spanned three days — incredibly, no other Queenslander reached 50.
“We’ve witnessed some very special innings in our lifetimes but I must say, without building it too much, that’s a very, very good innings,” former South Australian wicketkeeper Darren Berry said on Fox Cricket.
“And I say it because I think the surface is offering plenty for the bowlers, and he’s just walked off after one of the great innings.”
The 26-year-old eventually lost his patience after 134 overs at the crease, flashing at a wide delivery and gifting a catch to the gully fielder.
Speaking to Fox Cricket after his classy knock, Labuschagne conceded he was “very frustrated” with the mode of dismissal.
“Obviously getting into a really good position to get the lead to 250, 300 and to get out the way I did was very frustrating,” Labuschagne said.
“I was too greedy trying to get the boundary through the gully region.
“I don’t think I’ve played an innings that’s been so measured the whole way through. A lot of that comes down to mental maturity, not being too greedy at times, taking the runs on offer and trying to do it as long as I can.”
HIGHEST SCORES IN SHEFFIELD SHIELD FINALS
Mike Valetta (WA) — 262 vs VIC, 1987
Jimmy Maher (QLD) — 223 vs VIC, 2006
Shane Watson (QLD) — 201* vs VIC, 2006
Marnus Labuschagne (QLD): 192 vs NSW, 2021
Adam Gilchrist (WA) — 189* vs SA, 1996
Abbott was the chief destroyer with the ball for New South Wales, finishing with figures of 4/71 in 28.3 overs.
Blues tweaker Nathan Lyon snared three wickets, while the pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Trent Copeland each mustered a breakthrough.
In response, New South Wales openers Daniel Hughes and Matthew Gilkes combined for a 64-run stand before Bulls captain Usman Khawaja pulled off a stunning catch to break the partnership.
Hughes attempted to drive young paceman Xavier Bartlett through the covers, only for a thick outside edge to fly towards a diving Khawaja at gully.
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The moment was oddly reminiscent of his catch to remove Indian captain Virat Kohli at Adelaide Oval in December 2018.
Bartlett then removed Blues rising stars Jason Sangha and Jack Edwards to leave the visitors staring down the barrel of defeat.
The Blues are 4/121, still trailing by 125 runs — Queensland are five wickets away from claiming their first Sheffield Shield title in three years.
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