Ashes 2019: Labuschagne calls on Australia to crank up the pressure

England ended day three of the third Test dreaming of an unlikely victory, but Marnus Labuschagne urged Australia to build the pressure.

Marnus Labuschagne acknowledges the crowd after his innings.   -  Getty Images

Marnus Labuschagne hopes Australia can make England melt in the Headingley pressure cooker on Sunday as the tourist seeks to retain the Ashes urn.

A third successive half-century from Labuschagne (80) had helped Australia post 246 on Saturday, setting England a mammoth target of 359.

But the host - seeking its highest successful run chase in Test history - reached stumps on day three 156-3 with captain Joe Root unbeaten on 75 having shared a crucial third-wicket stand of 126 with Joe Denly (50).

It sets up a mouth-watering fourth day as England dreams of an unlikely success, yet Labuschagne hopes Australia's bowlers can make it crumble under pressure, particularly with a new ball due after a further eight overs.

"You always find that there's big partnerships but then there's one, two, three wickets," Labuschagne said.

"It can happen very quickly, so that's why you've just got to make sure you shut that scoreboard down, make sure you keep the pressure on, because when you lose one or two wickets all of a sudden the scoreboard can look a lot different if you add two wickets to it.

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"That'll be what we're trying to do tomorrow, trying to make sure we're shutting down the scoreboard and making sure we're bowling balls in good areas with that new ball."

One week ago Labuschagne was on the periphery of this series but, thrust into the line-up in the second innings at Lord's last Sunday as Steve Smith's concussion replacement, the 25-year-old has quickly become a key cog for a team still shorn of its leading batsman.

While the techniques of England's batsmen has been criticised following a heavy white-ball schedule, Labuschagne has thrived in the longest format thanks to a productive spell in the County Championship with Glamorgan, for whom he amassed 1,114 runs in 10 first-class games.

"Playing for Glamorgan helped a lot," he admitted.

"Obviously playing 10 first-class games in probably less than two months was very helpful. Playing against the swinging ball in different conditions - and just learning my game and learning to put big runs on the board - definitely helped me and built my confidence as well.

"Then transitioning to this - I think I didn't play many other formats leading up to this. My focus was really on red-ball cricket, so the lead up and preparation was really good."

-I'm getting good at concussion tests, jokes Labuschagne-

Labaschagne joked he is "getting pretty good at answering the questions" in concussion tests after taking another Jofra Archer bouncer to the head in the third Ashes Test.

Labaschagne became the first concussion substitute in the second match at Lord's when star Australia batsman Steve Smith was unable to continue following a blow from England ace Archer.

The stand-in was himself then struck by Archer but battled on to prove his worth in a hard-fought draw, earning a place in the team for the third match as Smith failed to recover in time.

Labaschagne improbably took another whack from the fast bowler early on Saturday in Leeds and received his second concussion test of the series, later acknowledging an increasing familiarity with the process.

"I'm getting pretty good at answering the questions," he told reporters. "I remember the questions from two days ago.

"You don't like getting in the head but it wakes you up. To be fair, today was a bit stiff.

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"It came back a long way, I kept trying to sway and sway and ran out of room - my back's not that flexible. You just want to make sure you're watching the ball.

"It's a bit of a laugh now. He comes on and I say, 'Doc, I'm fine'. He knows now. If I do get hit properly, there will be a clear difference. The last two have been glancing blows."

Asked how the concussion tests go, Labaschagne continued in good humour as he reeled off examples of questions.

"'Who's the bowler at the other end?' 'Who's the last wicket?' 'How was he out?' Who you're playing against," he said. "You don't want to get that one wrong.

"You're only playing one team; if you get that wrong, you're probably getting marched off!"