After making his third consecutive fifty-plus score since slotting into the XI as a concussion replacement for Steve Smith, Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne put his purple patch at the Ashes series down to his County stint with Glamorgan.
Before making the Ashes squad, the Australia No.4 had had a bounty English summer with the County, amassing 1,114 runs, at an average of 65.52, with five centuries and as many fifties in ten matches, in the second division of the Championship.
It was an experience that prepared him for the hard life of an Ashes batsman in the country, underpinned by constant awareness and oodles of patience when things don’t go your way.
"Playing for Glamorgan helped a lot," Labuschagne said on Saturday, 24 August, after his second-innings 80 gave Australia 358 runs to defend and retain the urn at Headingley. "Obviously, playing 10 first-class games in probably 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.
“Then transitioning to 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 and preparation was really good.
"Especially in Test cricket, you go through… I think Wadey [Matthew Wade] and I went through a period yesterday, when we were like, 'let's get to a 50-run partnership', and it took us about 15 overs to get another five runs. In Test cricket, it can come in patches, and when they're bowling well, you've just got to trust the process and trust the runs will come. They will get tired and it will open up."
Before this series, Labuschagne had had a lukewarm start to his Test career. He had one fifty in eight innings, and in his last Test before the Ashes, he had been dismissed for 6 and 4 against Sri Lanka in Canberra.
That was interspersed by a middling Sheffield Shield season, where nine matches for Queensland yielded 416 runs at 24.47, with just three fifties in 17 innings. Labuschagne said that coming over to England for the Glamorgan stint was helpful as the change in scenery, as well as the relentless grind of the English domestic season helped him regain his mojo.
“Playing for Glamorgan helped a lot. 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.”
"The change in environment freshens you up," he said. "Over here, you play a lot of games. When you've struck a run of form and are playing back to back to back games, you can build a lot of momentum. I was lucky enough to find that momentum and be able to keep that rhythm going with my batting through the whole season at Glamorgan.
“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."
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