A technical change in his batting prompted by the advice of his coach in county cricket prepared Australia's Marnus Labuschagne for the 2019 Ashes, making him one of the visitors' biggest successes in their campaign to retain the urn.
Labuschagne came in as Steve Smith's concussion replacement in the second Test at Lord's, and promptly made himself undroppable. He finished behind Smith as Australia's second-highest run-getter in the series, his 353 runs from seven innings coming at an average of 50.42.
Much of that was down to the work he put in during his county stint with Glamorgan, under coach Matthew Maynard. Maynard revealed that in the player's first net session, he spotted a technical flaw; while it was something a batsman could "get away with" in Australian conditions, he would be exposed in England.
"For me, his bat path wasn't great. It wasn't coming down on the line of the ball," Maynard explained to cricket.com.au. "His was coming from a little wider.
"The reason for that was [the position of] his hip and his back leg. So we addressed that balance to keep his hips a little more side on and therefore keeping that back foot parallel to the crease. All of a sudden that righted the bat path to the ball."
He's a courageous guy, a proper warrior out on the pitch.
Labuschagne was signed by the county earlier this year on a short-term contract. He eased into his stint with a century on debut and revelled in a purple patch that lifted Glamorgan towards the top of Division Two. When the Ashes call-up came, he had 1,114 runs at an average of 65.52, with five centuries and as many fifties in 10 matches. It marked a sharp turnaround in a career that hadn't quite hit its stride yet.
"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," he had said during the Ashes.
🗣️ "He’s got a lot of fight in him, and it was great to talk through our innings out in the middle."— ICC (@ICC) August 23, 2019
David Warner is impressed with new batting partner, Marnus Labuschagne 👇https://t.co/GGGcfXNiFO
Maynard, who backed Labuschagne to feature in all formats for Australia soon, praised the all-rounder for his competitive ethic and team spirit. "He's a courageous guy, a proper warrior out on the pitch," he said. "It didn't surprise me he was so successful [in the Ashes series]."
The assessment finds an echo with Australia head coach Justin Langer, who is getting ready to decide on the squad for the Tests against Pakistan. "We don’t just select on numbers, otherwise the scorer could select the team,” he said on Tuesday, 12 November.
"We select on all these other layers. It doesn’t surprise me that he has come in and done so well because we see all these parts of his character."
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