There are several occasions when bouncers have actually changed the scenario of cricket matches. Right from the start of bodyline to the tragedy that took away Phil Hughes, bouncers had them all.
The rhythm of a bowler sprinting near from the boundary rope with a charismatic follow through along with pace written all over it brings the resultant product named bouncer which adds flair to a dull moment anywhere in cricket.
The rule binds you to some extent but still today bouncers have given people some joyous feeling amidst all dark moments in the game of cricket.
Likewise, a zipping 92.4 mph bouncer that struck Steve Smith on the third day of an Ashes test was an eventful moment in the history of Ashes.
It wasn’t because it added flair in the game with crowd going nuts but it came down to wire with a smiling Jofra Archer later on came under a big scrutiny in the social media platforms.
There people saw the birth of a concussion driven talent of a young man Marnus Labuschagne.He was the 1st Concussion substitute in the 142 years old test history that saw a sudden rise of a young man full of confidence.
Named after a traumatic brain injury, the rule withstand with a like-to-like replacements of player for the player failing to clear the test criteria.
Little did the world know that we are about to see not only like-to-like but the shadow of Steve Smith that was born in the Mecca of Cricket, “Lords Cricket Ground “that particular day.
The more I sit to write, the more fascinated words of Daniel Bretting’s excellent article circles my mind.
The mighty Marnus that Daniel mentioned in a series of events in that article of The Cricket Monthly in www.cricinfo.com compelled me to write in my own version.
“Marnus” in itself is a unique combination of name that overlaps with Afrikaans and Sanskrit meaning the same i.e, “Gift of God”. How well has Labuschagne lived up to his name.
To give a perfect justification to everyone who might take a dig at my writing bringing God all of a certain in the middle of nowhere, Marnus began his 2019 being at the bottom at 110 in the Test ranking.
He started his career with 0 and was on bench for the 1st two tests until he replaced Steven Smith at Lord’s in the middle of all the tensions.
After the test match that featured Archer’s bouncers more than anything else, those 100 balls faced by Marnus Labuschagne installed a new belief in a young talent who just fostered it and grabbed it with 2 hands right there.
He absolutely justified Steve Waugh’s comment that said” If you can stand in those situations there is nothing tougher than that in Cricket”.
The Post Lord’s test and a lot after that are some prolific innings reforming Marnus as one of the best batsmen of the modern world.
The batsmen who had 36, 0, 0, 36, 3 and 26 in 2018 before entering into the scene is today “ The Australian Test player of the year” and also the 1st batsmen to hit a century in this decade and 2020.
A specific talent Labuschagne is a mixture of unique mindset whose magical willow as described by his bat maker Lachlan Dinger.
According to Dinger , he carries a 2.9lb and a half square toe, handle very specific more so a slightly semi oval handle. It has a 29 mm top hand and 36 mm at the thickest point.
Marnus adds flair to this rebuilding Aussie group. The agility and energy that he carries around is what makes the Aussie dressing room so vivid.
The batsmen who was itching to be at the middle of the 22 yards got a chance in adversity and has never looked back from that instance.
That sound and smell of leather from Archer in that gloomy afternoon revived Test cricket by giving Labuschagne not only to Australia but world cricket.
That horrible start in Abhu Dhabi with a duck on debut flipped drastically after he made humongous 185, 162 and 143 by the end of 2019.
To add cherry on the icing, Marnus Labuschagne got his maiden double ton in 2020 after he scored a resilient 215 vs Kiwis in the historic Sydney Cricket Ground in presence of his entire family members.
If you ask me I have been a fan of Australian test team of late 90’s and early 2000’s packed with players like Hayden, Langer, Ponting,Martyn, Hussey, Symonds, Gilchrist, Lehmann, Mc grath, Gillespie, Warne, Lee and Karspowich.
They continued a legacy that Border and Mark Taylor as well as Waugh have set in that cricketing era.
Now, with Handscomb, Harris, Smith, Labuschagne, Head, Lyon, Starc, Cummins, Pattinson, Richardson, their future looks bright with Tim Paine and Justin langer able to build a camaraderie.
The Ashes urn of 2019 and World cup Semi final was just a trailer of what Australia can revamp in this decade of cricket with Marnus labuschagne already showing the glimpses of being the herculean mascot.