Leading Australian Test batter Marnus Labuschagne feels his long stint with English county side Glamorgan has helped him get fully prepared for the challenges in the run-up to the World Test Championship final against India, starting June 7. (More Cricket News)
Even as leading Australian cricketers, who are a part of the squad for the two assignments, including Ashes, were busy playing in the Indian Premier League, Labuschagne, the No.1-ranked Test batter in the world, was gearing up for the WTC final and the Ashes for the last to months playing county cricket.
The 28-year-old scored two centuries and a total of 504 runs in eight innings, and is confident of a good showing in the one-off game for Test supremacy against India, scheduled to begin at The Oval on June 7.
"I have been coming back (to country cricket) for five years now," Labuschagne was quoted as saying by ICC. "It is just part of my normal routine of coming here. I love coming here, I love playing county cricket, I love the team at Glamorgan, I enjoy it so much otherwise I wouldn't be coming back," said Labuschagne.
The No.3 batter's decision to spend more than two months in England could have been driven by the fact that he scored only one half-century during the recent Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which India won 2-1 at home.
"It just helps that this year is a Test Championship Final and Ashes year so it is very helpful for leading into the series," he said.
Labuschagne added that batting at No.3 brought with it the responsibility of giving solidity to the innings by playing responsible innings.
"Naturally, anyone that is batting No.3 for Australia is going to have responsibility," Labuschagne said.
"Even in 2019 (the last time in England for Ashes) it was my responsibility, it was my job to score runs and if I didn't score runs they (Australia team management) would find someone else to do my job and I don't think that changes," he said.
"It is about finding ways to score runs and contribute to the side in as many games as I can."
During the 2019 Ashes series, a lot of focus was on Labuschagne as David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft were returning for their first Test tour since the ban imposed on them following the 2018 'Sandpaper-gate' scandal in Cape Town.
Indian bowlers will be tough with Dukes balls
Labuschagne feels that despite India winning the Border-Gavaskar series, riding on the success of their slow bowlers on spin-friendly tracks, their pace bowlers will be a potent force with the Dukes balls in the WTC final with the conditions likely to favour seam bowling.
India have included the pace quartet of Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat in the squad for the WTC final, while all-rounder Shardul Thakur could also be in contention to play at The Oval.
"Two months ago we played against India, so in terms of seeing them and knowing their actions and what they do we are pretty clear on that," said Labuschagne "With the Dukes ball in their hand they (Indian pace bowlers) are going to be able to showcase their skills a lot more," he opined.