How Poms unwittingly got Marnus back on Test track
Ashes success story Marnus Labuschagne arrived home in Brisbane on Wednesday night and thanked England for helping him conquer England.
True to form for a man to whom too much cricket is not enough, Labuschagne bounced through customs at around 11pm and declared himself ready to strap on the pads for Queensland on Sunday in the opening round of the Marsh Cup against NSW if he pulls up well after the flight.
Labuschagne had flown out of Australia early winter for a stint with English county Glamorgan with his Ashes spot hanging by a thread after a tough domestic summer.
Live stream the India v South Africa T20 Series with KAYO SPORTS on your TV or favourite device. Get your 14-day free trial >
But a bountiful county season which netted him five centuries laid the platform for him to score 353 runs at 50 in the Ashes series.
He returns as the No 2 batsman in the side behind Steve Smith and, with quirky genius Smith the only members of the top order certain to be chosen for the summer's first Test against Pakistan.
"I think with the amount of games you play in county cricket you almost fast track your learning,'' said Labuschagne.
"Because there are so many games you are not learning in the nets. You are working on different things.
"You are learning in the middle by trying to adapt. I know my game a bit better now. Matt Maynard, who was coaching Glamorgan, was really influential. He helped me with batting. Just talking about cricket with him I really enjoyed.
'When I went over (to Glamorgan) I was on the verge of not being in the Test side.''
"Obviously I spent a lot of time at Glamorgan working on a few technical changes for English conditions. With the ball swinging you want to make sure you are quite still and don't make as much movement because the ball swings quite late and nips late.
"You just learn to be adaptable and find ways to score runs.''
Labuschagne had the best seat in the house watching Steve Smith decimate England's attack and he tried to soak up as much as he could from the batting freak on and off the field.
"That is one thing I learnt from Steve Smith. He keeps finding a way. He does different things but he finds way to score runs," he said.
"Just spending time with him talking batting was really helpful. The way he batted this series was extraordinary. I don't think anyone has batted of that calibre against such a class bowling line-up.
"That was amazing to watch from the other end. I spent a lot of time with him throughout the summer and learnt a lot about batting in different conditions.
"We had so many technical discussions about facing swing bowler against different types of bowlers.''
Labuschagne became Test cricket's first concussion substitute when he was called into the Lord's Test after Smith was hit in the head by Jofra Archer with the call-up given to him by Tim Paine.
"Painey was about three nets across and came in for an early hit. He looked across and yelled "you are playing so get your head around it.'
"It was obviously an interesting morning. I had a net session against Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson and all of a sudden that afternoon I was batting on the fifth day of a Test.
"Patto was bowling absolute thunderbolts so I did not want to break a finger before I got the opportunity to play.''
"You want to play Test cricket at Lord's but you don't want to come in in unforseen circumstances like that. It was not ideal but it was an opportunity I was able to take.''
Labuschagne will have the chance to relive his Ashes triumphs at the Summer of Cricket Launch presented by Queensland Cricket at the Convention Centre on 17 October. Tickets are on sale now from Queensland Cricket.