Sport 'Thirty-plus tons not beyond him': The rise and rise of Marnus Labuschagne

21:21  13 december  2019
21:21  13 december  2019 Source:   watoday.com.au

Labuschagne ton stalls Kiwis in day-night Test

  Labuschagne ton stalls Kiwis in day-night Test Emerging Australian batsman Marnus Labuschagne on Thursday posted his third successive Test century to frustrate a resilient New Zealand attack on the opening day of the first Test in Perth.  Your browser does not support this video require(["binding"], function (binding) { binding("wcVideoPlayer", "#video_player_b2453bfd-ce9f-4093-b0dd-cd70f14e9c85").

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While visiting the Boston Red Sox, Greg Chappell sat in on a meeting where the head scout was asked what he looked for in players.

"The guy made the comment, 'if he doesn't remind you of somebody, he won't be somebody'," Chappell said.

In Marnus Labuschagne, his batting coach Neil D'Costa sees similarities with one of the best there is.

"I'm from a subcontinental background, you can see the way he plays, there's a lot of the subcontinent in the way he bats. You look at Virat Kohli and Marnus, biomechanically there are similarities," D'Costa says.

Comment: Labuschagne keeps his cool to hit ton in Perth scorcher

  Comment: Labuschagne keeps his cool to hit ton in Perth scorcher On his way to a breezy century against a dogged New Zealand attack, Labuschagne became the fourth-fastest Australian to the 1000-run mark. Only Don Bradman, Neil Harvey and Sid Barnes have done it quicker than Labuschagne’s 18 innings in 12 appearances, and they were all Invincible. He left his senior partner Steve Smith eating his dust not only in the record books but out in the middle of Optus Stadium. When Smith was out spooning a pull shot, he had faced 164 deliveries, more or less the same as Labuschagne’s 168. The master had scored 43 runs in that time, the apprentice 103.

The flick of the wrists, the way he plays spin, particularly how he hits against it without imperilling his wicket, as he showed against Pakistan's leggie Yasir Shah.

"He knew how he could position his body and bat into the turn and hit powerfully through leg side," D'Costa says. "You usually see that in subcontinent players, not Australians."

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D'Costa knows his stuff. The batting guru was the boyhood coach of Michael Clarke and Phillip Hughes. He has also worked with former England opener Nick Compton, the grandson of the legendary Denis Compton and who played 16 Tests.

Australians pile on pain for New Zealand, despite late flurry

  Australians pile on pain for New Zealand, despite late flurry Australia lost a flurry of late wickets amid a barrage of bumpers from New Zealand's pacemen but victory still looms out west in the first Test. © AAP Tim Paine of Australia leaves the field after being dismissed by Tim Southee. Day three was more milestone day than moving day for the Australians, who did the Kiwis over slowly, before they aim to go for the kill with the ball.

Clarke, with 28 Test tons and fourth on Australia's runs list, sits atop the list of D'Costa's charges. Labuschagne has the potential to pass the former captain, according to D'Costa, whose confidence is founded on his protege's attitude.

"You find anyone in life who is really good at what they do and the number one ingredient is discipline - he certainly has that," D'Costa says.

"The next one is enjoy it - and it's pretty clear he absolutely loves playing.

"Add in the third one: he's enjoying being part of this winning Australian team. It becomes really infectious.

"You add the three things together and I'd like to think he could become one of the big players in that team. Thirty-plus centuries may not be beyond him."

a man holding a baseball bat on a field: Marnus Labuschagne is the rising star of Australian cricket. © AAP Marnus Labuschagne is the rising star of Australian cricket. It is scarcely believable such discussions are being had about Labuschagne, whose recall and ascension to the No.3 position last year stunned many.

Marnus Labuschagne moves to fifth spot on ICC Test batting rankings; Steve Smith still second behind Virat Kohli

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The Queenslander is arguably the hottest batsman in world cricket. He's just made three Test centuries in a row, a feat achieved by only eight other Australians. With just over a fortnight left in 2019, he is the leading Test run-scorer - you could have written your own ticket with the bookies.

He's made runs under the pump against the flow in an Ashes series, gorged on a weaker side (Pakistan) and now carved up one of the better attacks in the world (New Zealand).

Marnus Labuschagne of Australia celebrates scoring a century during day one of the First Test match between Australia and New Zealand © Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Marnus Labuschagne of Australia celebrates scoring a century during day one of the First Test match between Australia and New Zealand A cricket tragic, Labuschagne has formed a strong bond with Steve Smith, who has finally found a teammate who shares his obsession with the sport. You could even mount a case he loves the game more than Smith.

His mates say he can turn anything back to cricket. He's invented his own games as well - at camp sites using boogie boards and a camping chair, in his garage with a rubber mat and a taped tennis ball and even while cooking.

His manager Dean Kino says he has a deep interest in the game's off-field politics as well.

Labuschagne one of world's top-5 batsmen

  Labuschagne one of world's top-5 batsmen Marnus Labuschagne has risen to No.5 in the Test cricket batting rankings after starting the year outside the top 100.Labuschagne rose three spots to No.5 in the world on the ICC player rankings this week, off the back of three Test centuries in a row.

"He has a voracious appetite for cricket and the administration of the game," Kino says. "He knows about India, the ICC, the business of cricket.

"He knows he's a cricketer, so every moment he's not with his family he focuses on learning the game; why it's developing the way it is, who's pulling strings where, so he can become a better employee."

Those who know him well rave about his character. This is a player who, even as he was coming of age in the Ashes, could not wait to find out from his club mates how their pre-season was faring.

It was a big reason why Kino, a successful lawyer who was once Cricket Australia's head of legal, ventured into the player management business.

Kino met Labuschagne through D'Costa when the player was just 20. The Sydney-based D'Costa was asked to mentor him by his then coach in Brisbane, Blair Copeland, who stopped due to increasing work commitments.

D'Costa knew Kino was managing former England great Kevin Pietersen, Kino's sole client at the time, and wanted him to look after Labuschagne. Kino had no intention of expanding the stable - until he met Labuschagne.

"I spent three hours with him and fell in love with the kid," Kino says. "Even though I managed Kevin, that was a one-off thing. I decided, based on Marnus, I would become a player manager because he was such a magnificent kid."

In Labuschagne, who speaks openly about his faith, he saw "the most charitable, beautiful, 20-year-old kid I'd ever met". Kino describes him as the "opposite of an occupational risk", as in a player he would never have to bail out of trouble.

"He doesn't smoke, doesn't go out late, married to his childhood sweetheart," Kino says.

"He had a sense of calmness about him. He doesn't stress about going through tough times because he has faith in himself and God. As long as he does the hard work, the rest is out of his control.

"I thought that was a great thing for a professional sportsperson - and batting is one of the stupidest things you can do as a career," Kino jokes.

At the moment, he could not have chosen a better one.

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