Labuschagne: 'I am who I am because I am obsessed and I am obsessive'
Switching off from the cricket when at home after becoming a father has helped, says the top-ranked Test batter ahead of South Africa series
Marnus Labuschagne believes becoming a father has helped him find a better work-life balance as he prepares for a showdown against South Africa, the country of his birth, in his home city of Brisbane.
It will be the first time Labuschagne, the world's No. 1 Test batter, lines up in a Test against South Africa, having scored an ODI century in South Africa in 2020. He is in sparkling touch ahead of the three-Test series, starting at the Gabba on Saturday. In two Tests against West Indies, Labuschagne belted 502 runs at an average of 167.33, headlined by three consecutive centuries, including a double-century in the first Test.
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Labuschagne and wife Rebekah welcomed their first child in September, with baby Hallie making an appearance in the Perth change rooms during the first Test against West Indies.
"Becoming a dad has probably helped me switch off a little bit from the game when I'm at home," he said on Wednesday. "When my family's with me, certainly the two differences between when they were with me in Perth to when they weren't with me in Adelaide - I got to bed a lot later in Adelaide and I was watching a lot more cricket videos at night. In Perth, that wasn't the case, I was getting to bed earlier, putting her [Hallie] to bed.
"I am who I am because I am obsessed and I am obsessive, I love to try and get better each time and each day. I think that part, hopefully it never stops for me because I think that's what makes me who I am."
"I certainly think it's always exciting what this Test holds because it is a little bit closer to my heart, because it's the country where I grew up and where I spent ten years of my life"Marnus Labuschagne
As a young cricket-loving child in Klerksdorp, Labuschagne grew up idolising South African greats like Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Graeme Smith. When he moved with his family to Australia as a ten-year-old, his favourites quickly became Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey and Damien Martyn.
"My family have adopted Australia as their home and they support me, they support the Australian cricket team," Labuschagne said. "But I certainly think it's always exciting what this Test holds because it is a little bit closer to my heart, because it's the country where I grew up and where I spent ten years of my life."
Labuschagne expected to be in the sights of South Africa's hostile bowling attack as Australia's in-form No. 3. Captain Dean Elgar this week revealed an encounter he had with Labuschagne during a county match in England three years ago when, in a bid to rattle Elgar, Labuschagne started talking to him in Afrikaans.
"We'll have to wait and see," Labuschagne said in response when asked if he would replicate those tactics. "I've got no doubt that they're going to throw some curveballs and hopefully the responses can be either funny or none at all."