Justin Langer has dropped a strong hint that Marnus Labuschagne is on the radar for this year’s T20 World Cup in India.
The prolific run-scorer hasn’t stopped scoring runs since replacing Steve Smith during the 2019 Ashes and capped another marvellous summer in Australia by scoring a matchwinning 191 in the Sheffield Shield final last month.
Labuschagne hasn’t made his international T20 debut yet, but has shown he’s equally capable against the white ball during his recent foray into the one day game.
After 13 ODI matches, Labuschagne averages a tick under 40 (39.41) but it’s his strike rate (91.13) that will have selectors looking closely at him in India come October.
Australia’s T20 lineup is dominated by hard-hitters, who bludgeon the ball rather than work the gaps.
It’s one of the reasons why Australia have struggled in the shortest format in the game, with power men Marcus Stoinis and Mitch Marsh operating in two-gears: boundaries or dots.
Labuschagne on the other hand — like Mike Hussey and AB de Villiers — has built his game on a strong technique and his ability to manipulate the field. Throw in his useful leg-spin bowling and strong work in the field and the lively Queenslander is tempting prospect, particularly in the spin friendly conditions of India.
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Speaking on Fox Cricket’s Road to the Ashes, Langer and former England captain Michael Vaughan engaged in discussion around whether the shortest format of the game was having a detrimental impact in Tests.
Vaughan in particular said the modern day player’s mindset was impacting on batsmen’s ability to grind out tough knocks.
Jumping on the back of Vaughan’s point, Langer singled out Labuschagne’s hunger as someone youngsters should emulate and said his core skills would be transferable across the three formats of the game.
“That’s why I think Marncus Labuschagne is such a breath of fresh air and I am absolutely certain he will be able to play all three forms of the game,” Langer told The Road to the Ashes.
“He will be a superstar in all three forms of the game because he’s got such a great base of technique.”
While dollar signs are flashed over headlines and branded about willy-nilly, Langer said in general the best Test players succeeded in the shorter format of the games because of their techniques, honed during the rigours of red ball cricket.
“It’s probably the opposite to what people are expecting me to say here, but I would be teaching my kids to play red ball cricket because the more you learnt the art of batting, the more chance you’ve got of being successful in all three forms,” the Australian coach said.
“But I think a lot of people are getting side tracked by the glamour and potential money. Remember the big money only goes to the best players and the smart player will be building a really strong foundation of technique and concentration and can play all three forms of the game.”
Vaughan agreed, while pointing out former West Indian captain and T20 gun-for-hire Chris Gayle played 103 Tests.
“Those that just play T20 cricket, there’s only a small few [who succeed],” Vaughan said on The Road to the Ashes.
“People say Chris Gayle, but he’s played 100 Test matches, so he was an outstanding Test match player before he became this world beater in the T20 game.
“These younger players that think it’s just about the T20 cricket, I think that they’re almost a flash in the pan. They come in and disappear because they get found out. Those who have longevity have played a lot of four and five day cricket and they’re used to playing against all the different types of players and situations and that’s why they can adapt.”
Vaughan added: “What I will say is the mindset of the modern player has certainly changed.
“There’s not as many willing to battle out a ball that’s swinging around or spinning. I think the mindset these days – and whether it’s because they’ve been brought up or playing more white ball cricket only players can answer this – but I think when the ball starts to swing and spin, the mindset seems to be that they want to hit the bowler out of the attack and they want to score quick runs because they feel that maybe they haven’t got the technical side of the game to survive long enough.”
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