'Mind-blowing' Marnus Labuschagne a byproduct of Australia's dark days after ball-tampering scandal

Right-hander Marnus Labuschagne finished with an average of 112 for the five matches in home Test season after a double century, two 150s, one century and three half centuries in eight innings.

Reuters, Jan 07, 2020 09:16:33 IST

Many Australians might still struggle to pronounce his surname but they certainly know who Marnus Labuschagne is after the 25-year-old smashed 896 runs in five Tests against Pakistan and New Zealand over the home summer.

Mind-blowing Marnus Labuschagne a byproduct of Australias dark days after ball-tampering scandal

Australia's Marnus Labuschagne bats on day two of the third Test between Australia and New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney. AP

The irrepressible right-hander finished with an average of 112 for the five matches after a double century, two 150s, one century and three half centuries in eight innings.

His run tally was the best for an Australian in a five-Test summer Down Under — bettering superlative efforts from Neil Harvey and Donald Bradman among others — and only nine runs short of Englishman Wally Hammond’s 91-year-old record.

“What he’s done is mind-blowing, really,” coach Justin Langer told reporters on Tuesday.

“It’s a great credit to him, it’s a great credit to his mental and physical endurance.

“It’s a great credit to his humility that he’s been able to remain so grounded through it. Marnus loves it so much he’d do it for nothing and those are the guys you love having around the group.”

But for the one-year bans handed to Steve Smith and David Warner for their parts in the 2018 Newlands ball-tampering scandal, however, Labuschagne might still be in Queensland waiting for his chance to play Test cricket.

Born in South Africa but raised in Brisbane from the age of 10, Labuschagne was a surprise selection for the series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in October 2018, Australia’s first after the tainted tour of South Africa.

He hardly set the world alight batting down the order in his first two Tests and was a controversial call-up for the fourth Test against India that sealed Australia’s first home series defeat to Asian opposition.

Those were dark times for Australian cricket but captain Tim Paine said opportunities given to the likes of Labuschagne had been as important to the team’s resurgence as the return from suspension of Smith and Warner.

“We spoke a lot about it last year, of there being a silver lining about what has happened,” Paine told reporters after Australia sealed an emphatic 3-0 sweep of New Zealand on Monday.

“The guys who got the opportunity to play Test cricket who probably wouldn’t have. One of them is man of the series and has scored the most (Test) runs (in 2019).”

That was Labuschagne, of course, with his 1,104 runs at 64.94 over the calendar year sending him clear of every other Test batsman.

Next up for Labuschagne is Australia’s tour of India in the 50-overs format, where he will be looking to win his first one-day international cap.

“It’s going to be great opportunity,” he said. “I just love the journey and it’s lot of fun to be a part of the Australian set up.”

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Updated Date: Jan 07, 2020 09:16:33 IST






Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5046 120
2 New Zealand 3241 112
3 South Africa 3177 102
4 England 4593 102
5 Australia 3672 102
6 Sri Lanka 3795 95
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7364 121
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
6 Pakistan 5019 98
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 10071 258
6 New Zealand 6056 252