Marnus Labuschagne will be aiming to copy Joe Root’s playbook in Sri Lanka as he prepares for what he expects will be his toughest challenge yet against spin.
Labuschagne completed his latest county stint with Glamorgan on Sunday in an abandoned T20 clash against Surrey, but not before he had taken 2 for 27 from his four overs ahead of a tour were his leg-spin could be used more regularly by Aaron Finch and Pat Cummins.
However, it will be with the bat where he will have his best chance to define games, especially the two Tests in Galle which conclude the tour.
Root had a phenomenal Test series in Sri Lanka in early 2021 where he made first-innings scores of 228 and 186 in Galle, which followed a century in Pallekele on the previous tour.
Labuschagne’s Test career started against Pakistan in the UAE in 2018, but his only other experience in Asia was the recent series in Pakistan. The home side’s spinners underwhelmed in those three matches where Labuschagne started with 90 in Rawalpindi before collecting first-innings ducks in the next two games.
“For me, it’s my first real subcontinent challenge against spin, it’s about conquering that challenge,” Labuschagne told BBC Sport Wales. “Joe Root played phenomenally over there; I’ve learned a lot from how he went about his game there.
“As a team we want to be the best in the world. It doesn’t matter where you take us, we want to be winning games and I certainly think we can do that in Sri Lanka. I’ll have to get used to conditions, the heat and sweating it out, which is something we haven’t had the last few games [in the UK].”
Although Labuschagne is now returning to Australia duty at the start of what will be a hectic period of national action, he is keen for another pre-Ashes stint with Glamorgan next year.
Labuschagne’s schedule is not as crammed as some of Australia’s three-format players as he is not yet a regular in the T20I side, but there are 11 Tests scheduled up to next March, plus a lot of ODI cricket, so he is aware he may need to manage his workload while his wife Rebekah is also expecting their first child later in the year.
He has often credited his 2019 spell with Glamorgan as a key part of why he was able to have immediate success when parachuted into the side as Steven Smith’s concussion substitute at Lord’s.
“There’s a lot of things in the mix, but I can’t see anything wrong with trying to copy the last time I played in the Ashes here, and play some county cricket with Glamorgan [going] into the Ashes next summer,” he said.
“That’s our blueprint; but we’ve got so much cricket this year, around 16 Tests and 18 one-day games, so we’re going to have to make sure I’m fit and healthy, and also get to spend time at home with my wife and child at some stage.”