Marnus Labuschagne and his many runs

He really has made a lot of runs.

To explain Marnus Labuschagne, we need to at least remember Mike Hussey. Because he was another player who came into Test cricket and just blitzed everyone. But Labuschagne’s pattern is distinct in almost every way.

Marnus Labuschagne has been as difficult for Test bowlers as his name is to say, or even spell - for the Australians it seems.

But his entire career has been so bizarre. Since entering Tests he has been the second-best batter by average.

Only Kane Williamson has a higher average, and he entered 2018 as Kane Williamson, one of the Fab Four.

Marnus Labuschagne entered Tests with a first class average of 36.4.

His average in Test cricket since then is 60.6. Players sometimes get honeymoon periods in Tests. Perhaps a good run home happen while they are selected in their mid to late 20s sure of how to score red ball runs.

Labuschagne did none of those things. He hadn’t made first class runs; he was 24 when he made his debut, and his run of good form started in England, in a tough series to make runs. This isn’t the normal bump. Or as we might call it, the Mike Hussey Peak.

There is a lot of nonsense spoken about Hussey’s career. One thing that is said is that he was always knocking on the door of the Australian team. He wasn’t, in fact, Western Australia dropped him.

But what is true is that after 18 Test matches, he was averaging 86. It is remarkable to keep your average that high for that many Tests, especially in your first ones. But players do sometimes get this kind of bounce when they come in late.

While it’s rare for players to average more in Tests than FC cricket, it happens more than you’d think. And that’s because first class cricket is played on tougher wickets designed to last four days, the facilities aren’t as good, and you often start young. If you’re a Test quality batter, and you start in your peak years, you often have a good run, and then are dropped at the first sign of weakness, so your average ends up high.

But Labuschagne is not like Hussey because he wasn’t great when he came to Tests. A bit like Steve Smith, Marcus North and Cameron White he was picked for his first series against Pakistan because he could bowl as well.

And Labuschagne didn’t hit the ground running. It was really not until he went to Glamorgan that things changed.

You can read about how Labuschagne went from a struggling first class player to Test star in the great Dan Brettig piece. But while a lot of things changed, one of the most obvious was what happened when he got to Glamorgan.

Labuschagne had two Tests and three first class hundreds before he played for Glamorgan. He made four more in that one season, and he didn’t finish the year.

But it’s the consistency that changed. He made runs all the time, look at this bit here where no one could take him for under 50 runs.

The other weird thing is that Labuschagne went back to Glamorgan this year and made no runs across six games. It was like the whole thing was a glitch, yet we know it has stayed true since.

The weirdest thing about all the runs that Labuschagne has made at Test level is that it’s come when no one else has scored. He arrived in 2018, which was the lowest modern year by average.

And since then, it has remained very tough.

But let’s look at the top three batters. Since his debut, the top order in Tests has averaged a dire 33. Labuschagne is nearly double that.

He’s worth two average top-order players. That’s just not right.

A huge amount of his runs come at home.

He has played six Tests when touring but 13 at home. And he’s made a comical amount of runs in Australia.

I mean, this is a lot of runs, innings after innings. A bit like Axar Patel or Kyle Jamieson, you have to consider that it’s a the full conditions and early nature. But lots of players have played at home since 2018. No one else has 1500 runs, and only a few have a higher average.

And it’s clear he’s struggled away compared to Australia. But he’s still averaging 39 when touring.

It may look terrible compared to his home record, but averaging over 35 anywhere now is pretty good.

And when you compare him to other batters, it starts to put his overall record in perspective. However, two of the six Tests he played away were before his transformation. So that has to be remembered. But how will he go in Asia, South Africa, or against the dukes in the West Indies. We don’t know.

One thing worth pointing out is that batting in Australia has been tougher. Easier than places like South Africa and the West Indies, but still grim by Aussie standards.

Whereas Williamson has batted in New Zealand, which is like a protected sanctuary for batters compared to most nations.

And you can see that along with Kane Williamson at the top, on the other side of Labuschagne is Steve Smith. That’s who Labuschagne has based himself on. Somehow he has outscored the original model.

In fact, in the last two years, he’s been massively ahead of Smith and more than anyone else in cricket.

He’s just been the best batter in cricket. And this might be a weird short sample size of home games and him feeling really confident.

But at the moment, Marnus Labuschagne has made a lot of runs to start his Test career. He’s been one of the best rookies we have ever seen, and it didn't stop as people saw more of him. And this isn’t a short period, Labuschagne has been scoring all these runs for over four years now. When no one else has been. At home, and even a few away. It’s remarkable.

This will eventually regress to the mean, like it did to Hussey after 20 Tests. But for now, it’s remarkable what Marnus Labuschagne is doing, he's scored a filthy amount of runs.