Marnus Labuschagne all set to become the No. 1 Test batsman in the world
No one requires to write thousands of words to paint out how tough, in terms of being mentally and physically demanding, Test Cricket is. In those old days, we used to see the monks batting for longer periods with great determination. But catching the eye of the whole world in the red-ball format in a quick session isn’t the easiest job. Well, going around the current table, the new rising star for Australia, Marnus Labuschagne, has shown something extraordinary in himself in the short time he has donned the whites at the highest level.
The Innocent Streak in Marnus Labuschagne
When you observe the South-Africa born right-hander, it appears to be like a kid playing the game in his backyard with an ever-present smile on his face and doing unorthodox stuffs; most importantly, enjoying every single moment.
“No runn...” he always raises his voice after hitting every delivery and still ends up scoring so many runs. After leaving a delivery, if he addresses it as a good stuff, he never forgets to congratulate himself.
Even during fielding, he always remains active and has a talk with the batters on strike. He is a team man and has the unique ability to help his team in every situation. The only constant thing for him is having a bubble-gum in his mouth every time on the field.
Average start to his Test career
Australia were having the hardest time in the middle of 2018 with their two main players, captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner, punished for the ball-tampering scandal. After capturing the attention of the national selectors with truckloads of runs in Shield games and being the leading run-scorer in the 2017-18 season for Queensland, he got a surprise call for the UAE tour against Pakistan.
Test cricket has been like a roller-coaster ride for him. “Am I gonna make a Test run here.” Labuschagne found to be saying about his duck on debut on October 7, 2018. He did perform better with a 5-wicket haul and 68 runs in the second Test on that tour. But this wasn’t enough for him to keep his name constant in the side.
He was again recalled in the New Year’s Test in Sydney against India in 2019 at no 3; a decision that raised the eyebrows of some of the former players and the media. Definitely, he could be a good bloke but Australia’s no 3? History suggests that the best used to arrive at the position but this young bloke who was being assumed as a natural no 3 was a bit of a shock for the former players especially considering the fact that Labuschagne also bowled some spin.
Ashes 2019: Lord’s innings that caught everyone’s eye
Well, this was a real story that teaches one how to grab opportunities with both hands at the right moment. Steve Smith was facing the fire of Jofra Archer and Marnus Labuschagne, in the documentary aired on Amazon Prime named “A New Era of Australian Cricket”, described one of the deliveries. “And I remember looking at the scorecard, it was like 96.2 (mph),” he said with a dry voice that smelt so much nervousness. “I was like, “ooh, that’s quick.”
All of a sudden, Smith got hit by a ball on the neck and he was laid down on the ground rendered senseless for a few seconds.
Thinking about the non-selected players, it generally becomes so tough to suddenly come to the ground and even field, not to mention about saving a Test match with the bat; they generally have a paper in hand with a cup of tea or reading a book along with walking in the park but here was Marnus Labuschagne 24-hours later due to concussion protocol having got a chance to play and face the same bowler in the 4th innings. The first legal delivery was almost a carbon copy of the ball that injured Smith as whole of Australia yelled, “Oh! Noo...”. The only difference was that it attacked Labuschagne on the grill.
He was down but the way he stood up and looked into the eyes of Archer, ohh man, the whole world saw as if a fighter was saying, “Come on, I am up for it.” Perhaps at that moment, people realized this kid carries something special. The first eye-catching shot was a punch down the ground to Archer for a boundary and since then he never looked back. He pulled, cut, swept the spinner and sent the ball to every part of the park as his half-century provided Australia a well-deserved draw. He came in the morning as the 12th man but left the ground being un-droppable. Surely, he is better than a substitute to end the series with 353 runs with four half-centuries.
The Golden 2019-2020 Home Summer
That 2019-2020 Australian summer saw him accepting the red-ball format like a duck to water. Exactly after one year of playing the Sydney Test against India where people were having a go against him being the new number three, he notched up 215 against New Zealand to take his tally to 896 runs at 112 across five home Tests consisting of four centuries and three fifties, only remaining behind Wally Hammond, Ricky Ponting and Mathew Hayden. His scores read 185, 162, 143, 50, 63, 19, 215 which spells out the fact that he put a huge price on his wicket.
The Influence of Steven Smith
Undoubtedly, every new player coming into the team will always look for the best of the job to grab the insights. The relationship that both Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith have developed over the years has been so fruitful to watch; whether it is in the nets trying to copy the same kind of shots or the weird manners of Smith during his batting or even during walking to the field or playing cards in the off periods, Labuschagne always look up to Smith as an elder brother and great influencer. They always observe each other, push themselves and now they are the best mates in the team.
Remarkable performance of Labuschagne in Adelaide Test, Ashes 2021-22
Labuschagne has been phenomenal and improving himself game after game. The 103-run innings he played during the 2nd Ashes Test in Adelaide (D/N) in the 2021-22 Ashes painted out how much control he has discovered in his batting.
The way he left the balls, playing different lengths or facing the pink ball, which swings a bit more than the red cherry in the evening, against James Anderson or Stuart Broad has stood out in the eyes of the observers of the game quite significantly. And then when Australia lost a few wickets in the second innings, he first showed great patience against the opposition attack before playing aggressively and not being afraid of lofting the shots when they were required to score quickly.
The only thing we should improve is pronouncing his surname in the right manner. There are thousands of surnames that we have heard like ‘Labu-shane’ or ‘Labushen’ and so on. If he can learn English after arriving from South Africa and go on to score truckloads of runs for Australia, the least we should do is vocalize his surname correctly; it is Marnus Labuschagne, a smiling Australian rising star and so near to becoming the next superstar going around the world. Here are some tweets on Marnus Labuschagne and his recent records: