World’s busiest cricketer finds time for garage bash
A recent survey claiming Marnus Labuschagne played more days of cricket than anyone in the world over the past year sold him short by missing a game.
It was the day recently when Labuschagne was teaching young members of his academy at Redlands and it was too wet to train so they went back to his place and had a game of garage cricket.
"There was about 10 of us and I invited them back to my house and we played a five on five garage game,'' Labuschagne said.
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"Two slips, a keeper, a bowler … the fielding team was the umpire. We have a proper mat we roll out, a nipping ball. I have always said the best backyard games are bowler dominated. You want low scores … 12 plays eight. They are the garage games you want.''.
A Cricinfo survey released last month revealed no cricketer played more than the 129 days Labuschagne played in the previous year including nine Test matches for his country and 21 first-class fixtures for Queensland and Glamorgan. But his appetite for the game remains insatiable.
"It was quite refreshing to hear. I thought I played a lot, I did not know it was that much. But I loved it.
"I loved playing the game. If you field all day or bat all day, who cares? I hope my love for the game stays with me for my entire career.''
On Thursday at the Gabba Labuschagne will play his 10th Test in a top order facing a captivating challenge against Pakistan's vibrant young pace battery.
The South African born batsman is a sponge for information about the game and his education featured a memorable morning last year when South African batting great Barry Richards visited Brisbane and offered to take Labuschagne and several other youngsters for coffee.
The meeting was expected to stretch no longer than 30 minute but lasted several hours and cricket generations past and present exchanged views.
"It was lovely to hear his views on the game. His thoughts were interesting and different. I remember him saying the third man is dead in the game and should come back. I agreed.''
Labuschagne will be followed in the order by run machine Steve Smith whom he watches in the same way young golfers study Tiger Woods.
On the recent Ashes tour Smith's sage guidance helped the youngster fight his way out of several tight corners.
"At Headingley I went up to him when Ben Stokes was going around the wicket and bowling inswingers at me. I was like "I don't really know what to do… what do you reckon?'' and he said "just open your stance up, defend it straight and if its an outswinger let it go. It was that simple. Thanks mate.
"The way he started his innings in England was phenomenal. People talked about how he let the ball go but the energy he created from ball one was incredible.
"Even when Stuart Broad was bowling into him and seaming it away it didn't look as if he was getting out. From the other end you thought this guy's not getting out.''