Labuschagne “thankful” for Sandwich experience

Wednesday 12th January 2022

Labuschagne “thankful” for Sandwich experience

Australia Test batter Marnus Labuschagne has spoken of the invaluable experience of playing Kent Premier League cricket with Sandwich Town has helped him in his career.

Speaking to Stephan Shemilt at BBC Sport, the current No.1 Men’s Test batter in the world recalled how his time playing alongside former Kent hero Geraint Jones at the club that also produced the likes of Kent Women Captain Tammy Beaumont set him towards his now meteoric rise on the biggest stage.

“I’d go for an hour’s walk, sit on a bench and visualise my innings ball by ball – literally until I got a hundred,” he told BBC Sport. “The first game for Sandwich, I got 127 in 24 overs. We played 55-over games. There was still more than half the overs left, and I got out.

“I thought if ‘I want to get a double hundred, I need to visualise it’. The next week I visualised the hundred, then getting to 200. I got 203 not out.”

As cited in the BBC’s article, his 1,049 runs set a new Kent Premier League record for a batter in a single season, going past the previous best of 1,012 set by the man who is now his coach for Australia, Justin Langer, during his spell with Dover in 1992. Labuschagne’s mark still stands.

“It was in that period I learned how strong the mind can be,” he said. “I’d visualise the batting, the bowlers and different plans. It’s something I will do now, but more subconsciously.

“I can do it talking to you now. Thinking about batting, how I want to play, changes I want to make and things like that.

“I’m on the rarer side when it comes to my cricket thinking. I’m used to being different.”

Living with Sandwich teammates Matthew Van Poppel and Dan Evans, it was there that Labuschagne recognised the need to change his diet. He cut out sugar and bread, instead eating sweet potato with virtually every meal, leaving his house-mates frustrated at the state of the kitchen.

“They always blow that up,” said Labuschagne. “They reckon I left the kitchen messy, but I’m not so sure.”

When Labuschagne was not cooking, he was shadow batting. As well as Van Poppel and Evans, he became firm friends with another Sandwich player, Rory Smith.

Smith has since had two stints living with Labuschagne in Queensland, while all of Smith, Van Poppel and Evans dashed to Dubai when he made his Test debut against Pakistan in 2018. They were in the Australia team huddle on the outfield as he was presented with his baggy green cap.

“The UK has helped me tremendously. Just the sheer amount of games – I was playing three times a week in club cricket. Learning the craft.

“I’ve got a lot to be thankful for from English cricket.”

Article originally posted on the BBC Sport website here.