Marnus Labuschagne’s stunning 2019 has been underscored by the Australia batsman’s meteoric rise from 110th to No4 in the ICC’s world Test rankings.
India’s Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson are above the Australian but there is the potential for Labuschagne to catch the Black Caps skipper in the Sydney Test.
Labuschagne’s year began when he was a shock call-up to Australia’s squad to face India at the SCG, joining the team’s camp on January 1. His selection at first drop was heavily criticised, and while he was sound in the second half of the summer his chance came when Steve Smith was concussed in the Lord’s Ashes Test.
Since that moment in August, the 25-year-old has made 975 runs at an average of 75. The right hander also topped the world’s run-scoring lists for 2019, with his run-out for 19 in the second innings of the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand his first score below 50 this summer.
“It’s an art and a science, isn’t it,” Langer said earlier this summer of his shock decision to pluck Labuschagne into the team at the start of the year.
“You use the data, use the numbers, use the analogies of what people are like and use what you see as well. People like Marnus, you see someone with incredible work ethic, incredible hunger to get better, very coachable and incredible energy.
“He brings so much to the team, not just batting and bowling, you have got to weigh up all those sorts of things. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t.”
Australia’s thumping of New Zealand at the MCG wrapped up the Trans-Tasman Trophy, and also moved them from fifth to second in the team rankings.
Meanwhile, Pat Cummins maintained his lead at the top of the bowling rankings, with Black Caps quick Neil Wagner moving up into second spot. Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood also both remain in the top 10, with Starc dropping down two spots from fifth to seventh.