While many people might get off a long-haul journey from India to Brisbane, via Singapore, a little tired and bleary-eyed, the 25-year-old hits the international arrival terminal with one thing on his mind - his next game - which is set to be at his home ground, the Gabba, where the Summer of began when he smashed 185 against Pakistan in November.
Labuschagne’s well-recorded ascension to the peak of international cricket has been nothing short of remarkable.
He finished the 2018-19 season with his place in Australia’s set-up somewhat unknown after tough summer against a top Indian attack. After getting his chance in the 2019 Ashes series, then dominating the 2019-20 Test season, he sensationally jumped up the ICC Test rankings to be rated the world’s third best batsman behind Steve Smith and Virat Kohli having amassed 896 runs across five Tests, including three centuries and a maiden double ton during the summer.
Add to that, Labuschagne earned his first One Day International cap last week, and returned from India – considered to be one of the game’s toughest initiations – with an average of 50 from his two hits.
He sums up his feelings of living the dream of every aspiring cricketer rather well.
“It’s been an amazing summer. I haven’t really had time to think about it. From scoring that century at the Gabba, then the double in Sydney (he scored 215) and the couple of games in India, it’s been on, but it’s been awesome,” Labuschagne says upon arrival into Brisbane ahead of the Heat’s game against the Sydney Sixers.
Alongside him at the international airport is the man some are saying is kindred spirit. Someone whose obsession and passion for the game and performing at the highest level perhaps outweighs his own. A player he has spent hours with this summer. On planes, in the nets, in hotels and at the crease – Australian teammate and soon to be Sixers rival Steve Smith.
Smith is set to play his first Big Bash League game in six years during Thursday’s match between the two teams in Brisbane. It’s one that will see the league at its absolute pinnacle in pitting Australia’s finest players against and with the biggest stars on the international scene.
Along with Smith and Labuschagne, who are still to be named in their respective squads, the Heat versus Sixers will also feature AB de Villiers, Nathan Lyon, Chris Lynn and Moises Henriques, and the world’s best batsman Smith was quick to heap praise on his Australian teammate ahead of their likely showdown.
With Labuschagne dominating Test attacks and having made a bright start to his ODI career, Smith sees his apprentice as having the ability to become a dominant T20 force also.
“I don’t see why not,” Smith said when quizzed on whether Labuschagne could become a three-format Australian batsman.
“We saw how he grew in Test cricket over the summer, the way he played and in his first few one-day games he looked right at home. Now it’s probably taking his game to the next level in T20 cricket. For him it’s about the gears and knowing when to play a big shot and when to bring it back a bit.
“He is so quick between the wickets, so there are a lot of twos to be had. You need those sorts of players in your team in T20 cricket. He certainly has a bright future,” Smith said.
Smith and will lock horns for the Sixers and Heat at the Gabba this Thursday night in what is shaping as a pivotal game for the home team’s finals chances. With the Heat sitting a point outside of the top five, the club will likely need two wins from their final three matches to guarantee a finals berth.