June 22, 1994, Klerksdorp, North West Province, South Africa
Right hand bat
Marnus Labuschagne's ascent to the higher echelons of Test batting was an extraordinary tale of making the most of an unexpected opportunity. During the Lord's Ashes Test against England in August 2019, Steven Smith was felled by Jofra Archer's bouncer and Labuschagne would become his concussion substitute - the first time in Test history the protocol had been used. By the end of the year he had eclipsed Smith as the leading Test run-scorer in the world, and locked in the No. 3 spot, in the midst of a prolific home summer that brought him four centuries in five matches against Pakistan and New Zealand including a double century at the SCG.
It was a far cry from a year previously when he had been the shock choice to bat No. 3 against India in Sydney, in just his third Test and with a first-class average in the low 30s, having been a surprise call-up to the 2018 tour of UAE to face Pakistan as Australia began to rebuild following the ball-tampering crisis.
Labuschagne was born in Klerksdorp, in South Africa's North West province, to South African parents. His family emigrated to Australia in 2004 when he was 10. He grew up speaking Afrikaans, and only became fluent in English after moving to Australia. Before his international call-up he had been best known for his work as a substitute short leg fielder for Australia taking a superb catch off Nathan Lyon in the 2014 Brisbane Test against India. He made 83 on his Sheffield Shield debut for Queensland in 2014 and was the second leading run-scorer in the 2017-18 Sheffield Shield season scoring 795 runs at 39.75 with two centuries.
In his first two Test against Pakistan it was his useful legspin - something he would continue to develop - that stood out as much as his batting as he took eight wickets while showing a glimmer of his potential with the bat in Abu Dhabi. Following the recall against India, he made a composed 81 in the pink-ball Test against Sri Lanka in Brisbane but did not receive a Cricket Australia contract despite being an incumbent in the Test team.
What came next was a key part of his story as he signed for Glamorgan for the first part of the 2019 county season where he would churn out 1114 runs in 10 matches, honing his technique against the moving Duke ball and then winning the race for a spot in the Ashes squad.
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