Cricket, they say is a game full of glorious uncertainties. It may sound like another one of those cliches but one man and his career graph is enough to see why it’s an oft used phrase. It’s been an incredible last few months for Marnus Labuschagne who last week broke into the top 4 in test batting rankings, leapfrogging the likes of Joe Root barely 14 months after making his debut. It’s a great cricket story of a boy who used to be a hot-spot operator at the Gabba to the greatest test scorer of 2019.
The South African born right-hander had a paltry first-class average in the mid-’20s 24 months ago. He went to his private coach at that time and told him he wants to be a test cricketer. Little did he know that in a short span of time he would be the best test batsman of 2019. With the trio of Smith, Warner, and Bancroft being banned for a year the Australian selectors had a huge headache as the batting reserves in the country were at an all-time low. In the 2017-18 Sheffield shield season, Labuschagne had a decent outing and scored 758 runs with an average of 39.89. Those numbers otherwise wouldn’t warrant an Australia selection but as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.
The Queenslander was selected for the challenging UAE tour against Pakistan and made his debut in October 2018. Australia lost the series and Marnus lost his place in the playing 11. He played the Sydney test against India and live up to his average of the time getting out on 38. It was back to the drawing board for Labuschagne who was then ignored for the Sri Lanka series. The beginning of the turnaround for him was the county stint with Glamorgan last year where he tightened up his technique and pounded runs at every given chance.
It was probably good form in English conditions that prompted Justin Langer to select the Labuschagne as the reserve batsman ahead of recent centurion Joe Burns in the Ashes squad. At the time this decision was widely criticized by Australian Cricket experts but Langer had seen the future. As expected, Marnus didn’t start in the 11 in the first Ashes Test and it was only the Joffra Archer blow to Steve Smith that made him the first concussion replacement in the history of Test Cricket. From there on 25-year-old didn’t look back, scoring back to back half-centuries in testing conditions,
His Ashes form co coinciding with Usman Khawaja’s horrible run won him the coveted number 3 spot against Pakistan when Australia started their current home season. Marnus scored back to back 150’s against Pakistan before scoring another 140 in the first test vs New Zealand in the process becoming the only batsman to score 1000+ runs in 2019. If his 2019 was great, the start to 2020 has been even better. First the news of breaking into the ODI squad that will tour India, followed by his first double century in Sydney in the third test between the trans-Tasman rivals. The meteoric rise of Marnus Labischagne is there for everyone to see and one just hopes that he continues in that vein.