Cricket

Marnus Labuschagne’s unconventional personality and why it makes him so good at cricket

Marnus Labuschagne holding a cricket bat and smiling.

Queensland cricketer James Bazley remembers “very clearly” the first time he met Marnus Labuschagne.

“I played against him – I was from the Sunny Coast, Marnus was in Brisbane – we played a regional carnival and Marnus was this very good drummer, but very loud on the pitch.

“He had these long skins, he had zinc all over his nose, food hanging down his shirt.

“You just couldn’t get over it, like ‘who is this guy? “And I had a little chat after the game and from there I never forgot it,” Bazley says.

The two competed in the junior ranks, eventually representing Queensland together at minor level and becoming good friends.

Bazley knows the driving forces behind the world number one batsman as well as anyone – a milestone he took, according to the ICC rankings, during the recent Ashes series.

Labuschagne’s next challenge will be to anchor the Australian stick on what promises to be a tough three-Test tour of Pakistan, starting today in Rawalpindi – which he will no doubt approach in his own way.

Labuschagne is an atypical cat. You only have to watch how he kicks and kicks, or how his teammates interact with him, to realize he’s cut from a different cloth than most cricketers.

Marnus Labuschagne quickly went from Test rookie to world number one batsman – but there was a lot of hard work along the way.(Getty Images: Quinn Rooney)

He has weird manners. He is nervous. He never stops talking. He is incredibly positive in his words and actions. It is going viral on TikTok. Some commentators even find it “annoying”.

Labuschagne says he’s just himself.

“I’m very enthusiastic about the game and also about life. I’m an optimist,” he told the ABC.

“I always think the best in people and also the best in any situation. But, look, I don’t think my personality changes much from being on the pitch to being off the pitch. I try to be, you know, a nice person to be around, always smiling, happy, because I can do what I love – and it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to play for Australia.”

Three men in tuxedos smile at a wedding.
James Bazley (centre) and Marnus Labsuchagne (right) rose through the ranks together and became close friends. (Provided)

And what about people like Shane Warne who think he’s irritating?

“You just have to keep being true to yourself.”

Labuschagne holding a chocolate lab with the sunset behind them.
Marnus Labuschagne heads for Stradbroke Island whenever possible, with the dog Milo in tow.(Instagram: Marnus Labuschagne)

Bazley says despite his intensity and competitiveness, Labuschagne is just a good guy.

“I love that about him, definitely stays true to himself.

“And that’s so important, you know, in this industry and in life too, you know what I mean?

“Everyone is different. Everyone is unique.

“Cricket aside, we’re good friends and he’s a very loyal friend, which is important.

“He’s a great friend, he’s a caring guy. He cares about you as a person, not just as a cricketer.”

How Labuschagne’s unique personality led him to the top of cricket

That endless well of positivity that some find shocking, along with an unrivaled obsession with the game of cricket (well, perhaps only matched by Steve Smith) are the traits that have most contributed to forging the Labuschagne we see today. today, who averages nearly 57 with the bat and has six hundred and twelve fifty in just 23 tests.

“I think as a professional you have to be obsessed to be this good,” Bazley said of his friend.

A little blond boy playing a shot of cricket on a beach.
Marnus Labuschagne says he has always loved the stick.(Instagram: Marnus Labuschagne)

“We all love the game and I think some people just don’t feel like they show it outwardly, but Marnus certainly does, more than anyone.

“And it’s contagious too, he’s ready to help everyone around the group, he’s ready to challenge people, he’s ready to be a great leader.”

Labuschagne himself points out that you have to really love something to keep doing it even if you fail so often.

“I’ve always liked hitting. But I like the challenge of the game,” he says.

Marnus Labuschagne watches the ball after taking a shot
Labuschagne is constantly talking to himself and those around him as he punches.(Getty Images: Bradley Kanaris)

“As a hitter, it’s more taxing mentally than physically, you know, to miss a kid.

“All those kids playing cricket, you miss, almost, well, you sure miss you more than you do well, don’t you?

“So to deal with this disappointment.

“The game is so difficult, which makes it so rewarding when you do well.”

Make your way to the top

A couple smiles on a boat with the sunset behind them.
Marnus Labuschagne and his wife Rebekah on a boat.(Instagram: Marnus Labuschagne)

Although we are witnessing Labuschagne’s career blossoming at the highest level, Bazley points out that he hasn’t always had it easy.

Bazley says “it’s certainly no surprise” that Labuschagne is now the highest ranked batsman in the world but: “His journey hasn’t been easy and that’s important to know too.

“There’s been a lot of lows in his journey and, you know, you probably won’t read about it as much.

“But he just kept working, he persisted through tough times in his career, which made it all the more enjoyable for him and certainly for his loved ones to see.

“It’s a journey in the making.”

Problems and solutions

Footage of the aluminum-studded Labuschagne sub-continental training ground has recently gone viral.

It’s just representative of how he thinks about everything. Life poses problems, we must find solutions.

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“That’s how my mind works,” he says.

“It’s always been, you know, it’s kind of the same with my stick.

“I always think, ‘What’s the problem here? How are they trying to get you out?’

“And then try to assess it.

“So probably a similar thing with recreating different conditions – if I try to recreate rotational conditions, well, I sit there and think about the conditions I’m going to face.

“I’ve watched a lot of cricket in the subcontinent, so some balls go big, some slip.

“And I tried a few different fabrics and stuff on the bottom, sticking them on, but they weren’t hard enough that they wouldn’t slip. So I thought, ‘what if I put some thin and hard aluminum so that the ball can accelerate at the wicket?

“And then just try to modify it from there.”

Having fun is still the most important part of cricket for Labuschagne.

“You just enjoy playing, you don’t think about the consequences, but you just enjoy and work on things while you play.”

The other type of grind

Marnus with a coffee in front of his coffee machine.
Labuschagne has been a coffee addict since he was a teenager.(Instagram: Marnus Labuschagne)

Beer and baked beans may have been the bread and butter of the Australian cricket team’s culinary culture for generations past, but Labuschagne is slowly introducing a more sophisticated mix.

He has been a coffee enthusiast since his teenage years and now ensures that an espresso machine accompanies the team wherever they go.

He received his first coffee machine as a 19-year-old gift from his future in-laws and has been obsessed with the grind ever since.

“I kind of got really passionate about it, interested in beans, making coffee, barista skills and stuff like that.

“Obviously I travel with my machine now when I go abroad. We have a team machine that comes with us.

“It’s really exciting that, you know, it’s also part of us as a team culture.”