Marnus Labuschagne returns to the county scene for the first time since his ‘sliding-doors moment’ of two summers ago.
Labuschagne only entered the 2019 Ashes as Test cricket’s first concussion sub, replacing Steve Smith at Lord’s, and withstood being struck by England fast bowler Jofra Archer himself to convert the form which had seen him pass 1,000 first-class runs for Glamorgan onto the Test stage.
The 28-year-old only had five caps to his name at that point and was a borderline squad pick for the Australians but seized the moment by averaging more than 50 over four matches as the tourists reclaimed the urn.
Marnus Labuschagne returns to Glamorgan as the the number three ranked Test batsman
‘It is one of the things I’ll never forget: that Jofra Archer bouncer, being able to score a few runs in that first game, the momentum and belief I had in my game at that stage just grew and I’m very thankful for that opportunity,’ Labuschagne, the number three ranked Test batsman, said.
‘It’s difficult not to look back at that because it’s been such a pivotal part of my career. It was one of the best series I’ve played in.
‘I’ve never heard a crowd cheer so loud and also be so quiet in the space an hour like it did during that loss at Headingley. That’s what Ashes cricket is all about.
‘So it will be great to see full crowds in Australia later this year and hopefully we can recreate that atmosphere.
‘I’m very confident that we can retain the Ashes but there is a lot of water to go under the bridge before then.
The 28-year-old batsman recently won the Sheffield Shield with Queensland
‘We need to make sure if we get an opportunity like 2019 that we really take it. We would’ve loved to have walked away with a win not a draw.’
Ahead of the 2021-22 Ashes, Labuschagne will play most of this domestic summer with Glamorgan, starting against Kent at Sophia Gardens this week. A disparity in the English and Welsh government rulings of elite sport means that athletes can compete while quarantining in Wales.
Michael Neser, alongside whom he recently won the Sheffield Shield with Queensland and now a housemate in Cardiff, is being given an extra week by the Welsh club to condition as a fast-bowling all-rounder.
One of Labuschagne’s Championship challenges will be an Ashes hors d’oeuvres against Lancashire early next month.
‘If you’re playing Jimmy Anderson now, it’s a challenge in these conditions, but it gives me a look at him a bit early ahead of him coming to Australia, which is the positive,’ Labuschagne added.
‘I feel it’s a privilege I get to play here. While I’m still young I want to play as much as I can and learn more and more about my game.
‘It’s a great opportunity this year playing against four Division One county teams, to keep scoring runs and being challenged. You get challenged over here in a much different manner to Australia.’
He also hopes to put a marker down for a maiden Twenty20 international cap during his second spell in the Welsh capital, as he is due to feature in a full Vitality Blast campaign.
‘The potential to play 14 games – which is is almost double what I’ve played in my career – is exciting,’ he added.
‘It’s a part of my game I haven’t had much opportunity to develop because of playing one-day international cricket and Test cricket.
‘So, it’s a chance to work out some good game plans and some skills for both my bowling and my batting.
‘I definitely want to play for Australia in all formats, but it’s hard to make a case for T20 cricket on the back of 16 career games.’