Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne, who has notched up three consecutive half-centuries since replacing Steve Smith as cricket’s first-ever concussion substitute at Lord’s, believes that his county stint with Glamorgan has been instrumental in his Ashes success.
The right-handed batsman has had huge shoes to fill – Smith remains the highest scorer in the series, with 378 runs at 126 – but has risen to the occasion and excelled so far. With 213 runs at 71, Labuschagne is third on the batting charts, after just three innings. His 80 on day three at Headingley was vital in Australia amassing a 358-run lead.
Speaking at the end of play on Saturday, August 24, Labuschagne reflected on the role of his 10-match stint with Glamorgan in Division Two of the County Championship in preparing him for the Ashes.
Australia’s No.4 batsmen in the Ashes:
The rest of Australia’s batsmen:
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) August 24, 2019
“Playing for Glamorgan helped a lot. Obviously, playing 10 first-class games in less than two months, maybe a bit more, was very helpful. Playing against the swinging ball in different conditions, and just learning my game and learning to put big runs on the board definitely helped me and built my confidence.”
Labuschagne was in terrific form at the Championship, leading the Division Two run charts with 1114 runs in 18 innings, including five centuries and as many half-centuries. The volume of matches afforded several weeks of red-ball acclimatisation, which Labuschagne believes has catalysed his Ashes success.
“Transitioning into this, I think I didn’t play many other formats leading up to this, so my focus was really on red-ball cricket. So the lead-up in preparation was really good.
“Every kid dreams of playing in the Ashes. Your mindset back then, you want to play, but it became more of a reality towards the back end of the county season. I wasn’t scoring runs. But it happens quickly. Cricket works that way. One minute you’re not playing, another minute you are playing. You just have to make sure you’re ready, keep trusting your processes, and keep working hard.”
1⃣,0⃣0⃣0⃣// Marnus Labuschagne hooks Morris for four to bring up 1,000 runs in the @CountyChamp in 2019! He's the first in the country to do so ?
— Glamorgan Cricket ? (@GlamCricket) July 2, 2019
Like the man he replaced, Labuschagne has been copping his fair share of blows, including one from the second ball he faced at Lord’s. He has had on-field concussion tests done on him multiple times so far, to the extent that he has begun to see the lighter side of it.
“I am getting pretty good at answering the questions! I remember questions from two days ago,” he said with a laugh. “You obviously don’t like it, but it definitely wakes you up when you get hit in your head. You just want to make sure you’re watching the ball.
“It’s a bit of a laugh now. He comes on and I say, ‘doc, I’m fine’. He knows now. If I do get hit properly, there will be a clear difference.”
Explaining the kind of questions that players are asked during the testing process, Labuschagne said: “Stuff like, ‘who’s the bowler at the other end? Who’s the last wicket? How was he out? Who are you playing against?’ You don’t want to get that one wrong! If you get that one wrong, you’re probably getting marched off.”