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Labuschagne open to Test captaincy

Australian batsman Marnus Labuschagne says he’s open to the prospect of captaining his adopted country one day should the opportunity arise.

Labuschagne, announced on Wednesday as one of the five Wisden cricketers of the year for his performances in 2019, said he hadn’t given captaincy much thought but would strongly consider the role should it be offered to him.

“It’s not something that sits at the very front of your mind, but it’s definitely something if an opportunity like that (the captaincy) came up you would never shy away from that,” Labuschagne told Sports Drive on Thursday.

“Even people talking about it, it’s such a privilege that people are even mentioning that.”

The 25-year-old threw his support behind current captain Tim Paine to remain in the role.

“In terms of the captaincy right now, Tim is doing a fabulous job, for me it’s just about me making sure I’m continuing to do my role in the team, and we’ll see what happens.”

Labuschagne’s stunning rise in 2019 saw him become a mainstay in Australia’s Test side at number three, having got his initial chance in the Ashes as a concussion substitute for Steve Smith at Lords last August.

The South African born Labuschagne reflected on his chastening Ashes introduction, which saw him struck on the helmet by English bowler Jofra Archer first ball he faced.

“When I actually watched Steve (Smith) get hit I felt way more emotional and entrenched because I was on the sidelines watching, compared to when I was out there I was running on adrenalin and just trying to watch the ball going through my routine,” he said.

“Once I got hit all I wanted to do was get up, lucky enough my helmet was good and took most of the blow and I was able to get up and play on.”

Labuschagne went on to make a match saving half century, one of four consecutive fifties he made for the series as he usurped Usman Khawaja as Australia’s first choice number three upon Smith’s return to the side.

When asked which innings was his breakthrough at Test level, the now Queenslander landed with his first innings knock of 74 at Headingley in the 3rd Ashes Test.

“It was overcast conditions, the ball swinging around the bowlers were bowling particularly well, it was just one of those days where I felt like I was really batting well. I might not have scored quickly I just felt like I was picking the ball up nicely. In those conditions I felt like that was one of my best innings so far.”

It spawned a sensational home summer for Labuschagne, who scored 896 runs in five Test matches against Pakistan and New Zealand, making four centuries and three fifties at an average of 112 with a highest score of 215 in the New Year’s Test in Sydney against the Black Caps.

He was joined in the Wisden top 5 cricketers of the year by fellow Australians Pat Cummins and Ellyse Perry, Jofra Archer and South African born Essex off-spinner Simon Harmer.

Labuschagne was humbled by the honour.

“It’s such a privilege and an honour to be firstly nominated for this award, and then to actually receive the award as one of those cricketers it’s a real privilege.” he said.

Having moved to Australia as a teenager who didn’t speak English, the Klerksdorp born Labuschagne reflected on his emotional journey to Australian cricketing stardom, currently third in the ICC Men’s Test match batting rankings.

“It’s very emotional when you really think about it and how everything’s unfolded, how the timing of everything that’s happened has fallen in to place. It’s a real blessing,” he said.

“I don’t think you gave me a pen and said how do you want your career to go I couldn’t have scripted it as good as it’s gone so far.”

When Labuschagne and his team mates next play a Test match for Australia remains to be seen, with the tour of Bangladesh scheduled for June postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.



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