Marnus Labuschagne was born in Klerksdorp, a relatively obscure city in South Africa. He moved to Australia with his father in 2004, when he was 10, after his Dad had secured a job in the mi…
Marnus Labuschagne was born in Klerksdorp, a relatively obscure city in South Africa. He moved to Australia with his father in 2004, when he was 10, after his Dad had secured a job in the mining business. He grew up speaking Afrikaans, which was his mothertongue, and learned English after he started attending school in Brisbane.
He pursued cricket in school and attended the Australian Institute of sport, and went on to be selected in the Queensland U-15 side, and subsequently the U-17 and U-19 sides, on account of his consistent performances with the bat in junior cricket.
Labuschagne made his first-class debut at the historic Adelaide Oval in the 2014-15 Shieffield Shield as a 20-year-old and became an immediate benefactor for his team, scoring 83 in his first innings. His debut innings was one beyond his age given that he watched Chadd Sayers take a hat-trick from the non-striker’s end, and rebuilt the innings with a 99-run fourth wicket stand with Nick Stevens, setting the base for the middle-order to score 443 runs. Although Queensland went on to lose the game and Labuschagne made a duck in the second innings, his contribution under pressure in the first innings was noted by the selectors, and he has remained a member of the side for the last 4 seasons.
He continued to grow as a batsman, stroking his way to two centuries in the Sheffield Shield in the 2015-16 season. He did have an off-season, and his average does not reflect his potential as a player, but with an upwards performance graph, a number of accolades, and an air-tight technique of a classical opener, he is looking all set to scale new heights in the upcoming season and seal his spot for the Queensland Bulls.
He has strong credentials in the limited overs format as well, having scored 271 runs at an average of 45 in the 2016-17 Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, and was declared Player of the Tournament for his batting performances. He was lauded by experts for scoring at a commendable strike-rate (90.63 in the Matador cup) despite limiting himself to orthodox shots.
His performance in the Matador Cup earned him a contract with Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League in November 2016. He has struggled to find a place in the regular XI, scoring just 21 in his three games, and he will be looking to cement his spot in the XI during the course of 2017-18 edition of the tournament.
He had the honour of rubbing shoulders with the Australian Cricket Team when he came in as a substitute fielder in the Gabba Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2014 against India. He made a useful contribution as he took a close-in catch off the bowling of Nathan Lyon to dismiss Indian tail-ender Varun Aaron. The catch was trending on social media at the time and a video of him showed up on practising close-in catching – wait for it – with a piece of corn!
In September 2017, he made headlines for the wrong reasons, when he achieved the unenviable distinction of becoming the first player to be penalized by the umpires under the fake fielding rule, less than 24 hours after its implementation, costing his team five penalty runs.
He is only 23 and needs to work on his first-class average, which is in the high twenties, as he has been in and out of the side, and has played only 12 first-class matches in four seasons. However, he has shown more than glimpses of his potential, and with Australia looking for a regular Test opener to complement the aggressive David Warner, another successful Shield season could make him difficult to ignore for the Australian selectors, given that his solid technique would allow the Australian team to open with a perfect blend of attack and defence.
As it so happened, in the aftermath of suspension of the trio involved in the Newlands ball-tampering saga, Marnus Labuschagne was called up into a new-look Australian Test side to tour the UAE and play Pakistan in a 2-Test series. The all-rounder failed to make much of a mark with the bat, which was not all that surprising, given that he was making his Test debut in alien conditions and was clearly struggling to adapt with the bat. However, his leg-spin was a surprising revelation, as he went on to snaffle several important wickets with his enticingly consistent lengths. It is this skill, that has guaranteed him a spot in the Test side for now, as the youngster attempts to settle into a groove with his batting skills in the lower middle-order of the Australian Test team. As of now, he is still in the honeymoon phase with his Baggy Green.
Then India toured down under and Labuschagne got a game at Sydney. He did give a good account of himself in the first innings with a well crafted 38. But the game had rains taking the honours and he didn’t get to bat in the second innings. But his solid show with the bat ensured he was in the side for the home series against Sri Lanka.
Labuschagne got to his maiden fifty against the touring Lankans in the first Test at Brisbane. His returns in the next Test at Canberra were nothing to write home about. But with the 2019 Ashes happening in England, Labuschagne decided to give it a try at the county circuit for the 2019 season. His returns were exemplary as he scored runs everywhere playing in various conditions. In 18 innings for Glamorgan, Labuschagne scored 5 fifties and 5 tons to lead the run-getters tally with 1114 runs.