Marnus Labuschagne’s performance in the 2019 Ashes was a clear indication that this is a batsman who will be around for a long time in international cricket. The 25-year-old stepped into the cauldron during one of the most fierce spells of fast bowling test cricket has ever seen and instead of wilt, he thrived. All of this despite being hit on the head during only his second ball faced, courtesy of a Jofra Archer bounced that was clocked at 91.6mph.
It was indeed a baptism of fire but, with steely determination, Labuschagne dusted himself down in an instant and stared Archer down. No, you’re not wrong, it is meant to be the other way around after a bowler hits a batsman but Marnus Labuschagne, the man born in Klerksdorp, South Africa, is no ordinary batsman.
Marnus Labuschagne copping a 147kph thunderbolt to the grille on the second ball of his innings having been called up for the Test this morning.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) August 18, 2019
Situated just 170km from Johannesburg, Klerksdorp is a dusty mining town that is famed for its gold. Labuschagne left this dry and arid landscape when he was just ten after his parents decided to join the legion of South African’s emigrating from the rainbow nation.
The mass exodus during the early 2000s has seen some of South Africa’s finest homegrown talent slip through the net and, after his Ashes heroics, it now looks like Labuschagne will join the list of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss to name just a few of the world-class players who were born in one country but play for another.
It must be stressed though, that the majority of Labuschagne’s cricket education was delivered by Australia as he progressed through the youth ranks and was modeled into the player he is. That’s not to say that he wouldn't have turned out to be the player he is today if he had stayed in South Africa.
After all, Australia and South Africa are renowned for the conveyor belt of talent that they produce and, when you take into account the incredibly driven attitude that Labuschagne possesses, it seems almost a foregone conclusion that he would have pushed for Proteas honors. Whether the door would have opened for him is less of a certainty, however, given that transformation in South African sports is top of the agenda.
Regardless, it is this attitude of sheer grit and determination coupled with an excellent technique that the Proteas are crying out for. Their 3-0 demolition and humiliation at the hands of India, where they crumbled with willow in hand, and the hurt of seeing Labuschagne announce himself on the world stage as he propels Australia forward, will be as great as ever.
Indeed, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne have finally given the Baggy Green the muscle they need in the top order. The future of Australian cricket looks to be rosy with the men down under the favorites to win the T20 World Cup next year in the cricket betting, and to retain the Ashes the year after that. What else can you say other than Justin Langer’s men seem certain to begin riding the crest of the wave whilst the country of Labuschagne's birth teeters on the precipice of decline?
Here's how the ICC World Test Championship standings look after India's 3-0 thrashing of the Proteas.
— SuperSport 🏉🏆 (@SuperSportTV) October 23, 2019
This is a new challenge that South Africa faces as it hasn't always been like this. In the past, the Proteas have managed to shrug off the impact that opposition cricketers born in the rainbow nation were having on world cricket. When Kevin Pietersen was smashing hundreds, Jacques Kallis was making double-hundreds, when Andrew Strauss was captaining England to wins in the West Indies, Graeme Smith was making history by beating Australia and England away from home.
South Africa were fortunate enough that their own players' achievements always eclipsed those of the ones who had left. That was until players like Marnus Labuschagne came along and are now better than what they currently have to offer. The tables have turned and, for the first time in their history, the well has dried up for South Africa, which will make Labuschagne's success all the more painful to watch over the next ten years.