Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja have taken umbrage at a comment directed their way from a member of the crowd at The Oval in video that has emerged from Saturday night’s Day 3 action of the fifth Ashes Test.
The Australian players were walking off the ground after the day’s play when an English heckler incessantly yelled the word “boring” at them.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Aussie cricketers heckled by English crowd at The Oval.
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The pointed dig at the tourists was in reference to their dour and defensive batting on Day 2 of the fifth Test — was drew criticism from both English and Australian cricket greats in commentary — when they crawled along at well under three runs per over.
Labuschagne and Khawaja batted particularly slow during Australia’s first innings, scoring nine from 82 deliveries at a strike rate of 10.97, and 47 from 157 balls at 29.93, respectively.
It’s especially slow when compared with the current England side, whose “Bazball” approach has seen them adopt and embrace some of the most aggressive cricket in modern history of the game.
It was Labuschagne who first stopped short while walking up to the dressing room.
“What did you say, mate?” he asked the England fan.
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Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja got into a verbal altercation with a member of the crowd. Credit: Twitter
The Australian batter then walked back towards the fan, who had presumably turned away, demanding his attention, as Khawaja stepped in.
Ever the peace-keeper, Khawaja, who was also visibly annoyed at the comment, swallowed his shared frustration with Labuschagne to defuse the situation.
“Hey, hey, hey — calm down, calm down,” Khawaja can be heard saying in the video.
Khawaja’s intervention elicited a swift apology from the backtracking Englishman, but Labuschagne wasn’t as forgiving and didn’t buy it.
“Well, you were just about to go at everyone else,” Labuschagne said, referring to his teammates behind him, as Khawaja pushed him up the stairs and ended the stoush.
Though clearly not as explosive, the scene had shades of the ugly incident in the Lord’s Long Room on Day 5 of the second Test when the Australians were mercilessly abused by the MCC members for “cheating”, in reference to Alex Carey’s perfectly legal dismissal of Jonny Bairstow.
Three MCC members were expelled from the club over the now infamous incident.
The dismissal of England’s Jonny Bairstow (left) led to MCC members accosting Australians at Lord’s. Credit: AP
But while the English crowd may have labelled the touring side “boring”, they’re now in sight of a history-making win at The Oval, heading intoday five, with David Warner and Khawaja setting up a fittingly thrilling final day to the Ashes series.
Chasing 384 to win the fifth Test and take the series 3-1, Australia moved to 0-135 on Sunday before rain washed out the final half of the fourth day.
Desperate to win their first Test series in England since 2001, the situation is now clear for Australia headed into the last day, with Warner unbeaten on 58 and Khawaja 69.
Pat Cummins’ men need 249 more runs for victory with all 10 wickets in hand to take the series 3-1.
A draw will also be enough to win the series 2-1, particularly if more rain intervenes and the day is shortened from the 98 overs currently available.
“We’re in a great position at the moment,” Australia’s batting coach Michael Di Venuto said.
“There are a lot of guys who have been on Ashes series over here in the past and haven’t managed to win. Twenty years is a long time.
“We’re in a great position for some of the boys to get that on their resume.”
Usman Khawaja cutting Joe Root’s off-spin en route to his unbeaten half-century at The Oval. Credit: AP
Warner and Khawaja are among the men to have felt the most pain in England, having had five unsuccessful Ashes tours between them.
Khawaja has also been dropped twice in the country in 2013 and 2019, while Warner is still without a Test century in England from 37 innings.
But from an unlikely position, and needing to pull off the highest-ever successful fourth-innings chase at The Oval, the pair have given Australia genuine hope.
Crucially, Warner was able to get through two separate spells against the retiring Stuart Broad, in the last head-to-head battle between the veteran rivals.
The left-hander drove Broad for four through the offside in the opening over, and later survived a chest-high beamer from James Anderson when he ran it down to the third-man rope.
David Warner narrowly evading a James Anderson beamer at The Oval on a good day for Australia. Credit: AP
After looking somewhat scratchy early, Warner upped the ante after lunch and slog-swept Joe Root for four, the hit one of nine boundaries.
Warner’s form has been heavily scrutinised on this tour, after he made several starts without producing a statement score.
But if the 36-year-old is able to push Australia towards victory at The Oval, it will almost certainly lock him in for his dream farewell retirement at the SCG in January.
Khawaja had looked even more composed than Warner, with his only moment of concern a short ball from Mark Wood that hit him on the back of the helmet.
With England’s tiring attack appearing otherwise unthreatening on a wicket that has slowed down significantly, Khawaja barely offered a chance at The Oval in the opening two sessions.
He also passed 5000 Test runs just before the rain delay, a remarkable feat given Khawaja’s career looked over two years ago when he was yet to reach the 3000-run milestone.
David Warner and Usman Khawaja put on a century opening stand to give Australia hope at The Oval. Credit: AP
“Outstanding start from our two openers,” Di Venuto said.
“They have put some starts together through the series. To get a 100-run start when we are chasing 380 was an outstanding effort.”
If Australia win the match, it will mark the second-highest run-chase in their Test history and the eighth-best of all time.
Warner and Khawaja’s start came after an emotional morning, with the grandstands full to offer Broad a standing ovation following his retirement announcement on Saturday night.
After being given a guard of honour onto the field, Broad hooked Mitchell Starc (4-100) for six.
It would be the last ball he faced in Test cricket, with Todd Murphy (4-110) removing James Anderson lbw moments later to have England all out for 395.
– With AAP
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