Not even the lockdown is keeping Marnus Labuschagne away from cricket. The Aussie batsman takes on questions in this video interview released by Cricket Australia. Here's the interview in full.
"To have received my first Cricket Australia contract and obviously once we get out of this, it's going to be more enjoyable to get around and hopefully play a bit more cricket. In terms of the situation, look I'm not an expert on it at all. At the moment, there's obviously one tour to Bangladesh that has been cancelled. But at this point of time, it looks positive and it looks like there's hopefully going to be some of the other tours still on as it stands now. It's exciting, hopefully that does go ahead and if that does, it's going to be really exciting for cricket."
How cutbacks to coaching staff will affect preparations
I think that's a real privilege of playing for Australia, the amount of coaches. But everyone in the system has gone through a period where you need to help each other out and I think it's going to be potentially depending on how many coaches are available. There's going to be a point where we got to help each other out — to throw and do a few things ourselves, which is fine. That's a part of the game and like I said, hopefully the loss isn't too much and we retain all those coaches because they've been doing a fantastic job as it's shown being the number one T20 and Test nation. At this stage, if it does go down that path, then yeah, I think we are all well-equipped to help each other out and that's sort of part of a team - that we need to help each other out and help each other get better.
On what he's doing to stay sharp at the moment
I'm lucky enough I have two of my really good friends living with me at the moment as well as obviously my wife. We've been doing a few things. We've obviously got a gym in the garage all set up so we can stay nice, fit and healthy. I've put a few little backyard nets up just to stop the tennis balls hitting the wooden fence. I've taped up some dog-throwers so I can throw tennis balls like side-arms in the backyard for a little bit of fun. I've taped up some tennis balls with some big seams and some that just swing. Like I said, having a bit of fun in the backyard, but also there's a lot of crossover there and keeping it quite relative to cricket.
On Australia becoming the number one ranked Test team
We're not in charge of how the rankings are done. For us, we hadn't played any additional cricket to regain that. So it's been more done on a calculation. I think the way that we have been playing Test cricket has been really good and the way we've been performing and winning games has been probably testament to reaching number one. In terms of us as a team, it's been really nice to go from the Ashes and have a real stable line-up that we've been able to play consistently. I think that has added to the success of the team, having that continuity between players and players getting to know each other a bit more. Guys growing together as a team and being able to go through that. When it gets tough, everyone knows how each other plays and that's really the nice part about the team at the moment.
On not being part of T20 cricket
Obviously, that's the case, I haven't played [T20 cricket] much. By no means do I want to limit myself to only those two formats, I definitely have ambition to play T20 cricket for Australia. Obviously, my opportunities [in T20 cricket] have been minimal and with the schedule, it doesn't look like there might be too many other opportunities in the actual format, but for me, it's about just scoring runs in one-day and Test cricket for Australia and if I get opportunities down the road then make sure I take them.
On how life has changed over the last one year
That's probably one of the major parts in this period, just to sit back and think about sort of everything that's happened. It has been a really special year for me, there's no doubt about that, the way things have unfolded has been awesome. For me, it's just been about taking it all in, being really happy and proud about that, then looking at how I can get better, looking at different parts of your game on field and off field that you can work on in this period to make sure you're continually getting better.
Any specific areas of the game where he wants to get better at
There's heaps to improve on, that's for sure. Personally, in one-day cricket, for me an area that I definitely want to continue to get better at, obviously I've only played eight games or thereabouts, is probably at the later stages in the innings — the boundary options at the back-end of a one-day game while batting No. 4 in that one-day line-up. That's definitely something I'm going to need to continue to improve on. That's a part of my game that needs improving. That's the beauty of the game. You're never satisfied with where you are. You are obviously happy with where you are. But you want to be better and want to continue to drive yourself to get the absolute best out of yourself that you can.
How geared up are you for the second season?
Yeah, 100 percent. Obviously, once you've played that initial season in any format, if it's grade cricket, if it's shield cricket or Test cricket, and people start knowing you and knowing how you play, so they come back more rehearsed, more research and they obviously understand your game a lot better. Yes, so for me, it's about making sure that I understand what they're going to do and I also understand where my weaknesses are and where my strengths are, and then I'm continuing to improve both those areas and understanding the game, I think. Obviously, teams, teams come out of the year and then they obviously reassess and there's different bowlers that come on scene. So for me, it's just about I've said it before, but just improving and making sure that I'm ready. Once this isolation's done, ready and prepared to take it on, obviously, trying to go another level up.
Thoughts on missing out on the County season
Yeah, I'm actually very disappointed that I can't be over there playing for Glamorgan at the moment. I really enjoyed my time last year. Yeah, everything about it. I love the coaches. I love the players. And, you know, it's quite tough to see the organisation over there, going through this tough time, obviously coaches and players and staff. So I have been staying in contact with everyone there. So I hope that the best and I hope that obviously there's some cricket played in county cricket and you know, we really hope that there is some cricket played this year in England. Yeah, I think it's been it was so important for me to go over there last year and to continue to go over there. I really enjoy it. For me, it's about continuing to grow and learn the art of batting. I think there's no better place to learn your game and learn how to play, how to play in in different conditions than going over and playing county cricket.
How much restrictions on using saliva and sweat will affect the game
That's a tricky question. Obviously, I'm not the ICC. So it's really hard for me to give you an opinion on all of that. But, you know, whatever they come up with, whatever rules and regulations as the players will just abide by them. And, you know, obviously the objective for everyone is to get cricket back on the field. So whatever sacrifices or slight tweaks in the game that need to be made for that to happen, I'm sure they will make that happen. For us as players, it's about being adaptable and finding out, you know, being able to abide by those new laws, if that's the case. In terms of shining, it will be slightly strange, you know, when you're on the field, it's so natural. If you're one of the ball-shiners to get the ball and put a little bit of saliva on your finger and try and buff out some of the rough areas on the ball. But if that doesn't happen, then that's the way it is. And that's just how we're going to have to deal with this situation.
Look, your stocks obviously risen incredibly over the last 12 months. First of all, if you had to pinch yourself at all. And secondly, moving forward, do you feel pressure to maintain that form, given how quickly things can change?
Yeah, it's been as we've just said, it's been quite amazing form. I saw amazing months for me. But for me, it's just about keeping it sort of process driven, not necessarily worrying about the scores or the runs. As a player, you always want those. I think every cricketer that's playing from your under-12s kid. You know, a 50-year-old playing sixth grade. Everyone wants to rock up and score runs. That's a part of the game. For me, it's just about making sure that my processes that I'm prepared, that I understand what the game requires and then to make decisions upon that. And then if that means that I get runs, then that's great. And if that means I miss out, then for me it's about going back to the chalkboard and understanding my game and making sure I continue to learn from that.
On when you could possibly head back to the nets
Yeah, I think that there's a little bit of discussion about regulations, obviously different states have slightly different regulations at the moment. Queensland is still bound with the, a single person outside of your household. So we're just trying to abide by those laws. And I think state teams are going to have to get creative with their training and so many of the different things are going to be asked to be quite creative then hopefully by the time pre-season starts, I think in June. There is a few relaxed-on regulations, and we can potentially have 10 people training, obviously maintaining the social distancing, but we'll have to see how it all plans out. You know, I really hope that we can get back to that soon. I'm itching to continue to hit some balls and, you know, hopefully move from the tennis ball to the real cricket ball.
On the lack of match practice before any possible tour
Yeah, I mean, I'm itching to play cricket. So if they come up with a match anywhere, if it's inter-squad or anything and it'd be nice to play, but like I said, it's so hard to decide because we're in such a different situation. So whatever happens if we don't get any lead-up and to that one-day series in September, then we know we have to be adaptable and be ready to play. Whatever happens, we just have to be really ready to come out of this and be ready to play as much cricket as we can.
You talked about waiting to establish yourself in the shorter format (T20s) earlier, where you are placed with the T20 World Cup and would you like the ICC to make a call on it sooner rather than later?
With the T20s I said it before, you don’t want to limit yourself as a player to only a certain format. Obviously for me I want to play as many games for Australia in as many formats as I can, but that’s not up to me, that’s up to the selectors and what's up to me that when I do get opportunities in different situations in one-day cricket or in T20 cricket I make the most of those opportunities. As for the 2nd question, it's so hard, I assume this is a very tough situation for the ICC and obviously working together with the Australian government to find out how or how if it can happen, so it’s a tricky time, for us it’s just being adaptable when we get the opportunity to train and then get ready for that tournament if that’s the case. Otherwise we just have to leave it up to the people with the high power and the people who know what they’re talking about to sort of lead us out of this tricky situation.
On the closed-door SCG one-dayer experience
Originally it was quite strange, just sort of waiting to bat and being able to hear David Warner call and actually you can hear so much of what’s going on in the field. I really felt that once I got there, it was all guns blazing, you were just so focused on the game, focused on playing and I think the more and more if this is the case and we have to play more and more behind the closed doors, the more it happens we’ll get more used to it and understand. I don’t think it takes anything away from the actual game, yes there are some things that feel a bit strange playing with no one there. I think we’ve all been a part of games where there’s been no one there, if it's club cricket, or different competitions where you don’t get big crowds, for us it's just about being ready and making sure that if we do come out of this, we’re ready to make any sort of sacrifices to get cricket back on TV and out there playing.
On facing India later on in the summer
It’s obvious that it’s really exciting to play against India because of the amount of good players they have in their side and obviously the real competitive nature between the two countries, so it is really good. It is really exciting that they’re coming over this summer and hopefully all things go well and they get over here and we can play some cricket. They obviously have a great bowling line-up, one of the best bowling line-ups I think and they have got world-class spinners and their batting line-up is very good, so it’s going to be very good. We’ve been playing some really good cricket ourselves, so it's exciting to sort of see and last summer the team played and there was no Steve (Steve Smith) or Dave (David Warner),having those two back on the side has brought the side back together nicely and created a nice unity within the team. It can be great to see both in full strength come this summer.
Earlier you said that, your batting in the latter half of a one-day innings is something that you’re looking to get better at. Do you think is that the only link for you to play T20 cricket, getting those big shots going, then you can make it to that grade as well?
That’s a good question, I mean there’s always many improvements that need to be made in everyone’s game, mine included as well, so, that’s one area I sort of just singled it out that I can continue to improve on. But there's many other areas, obviously my bowling, if I can continue to improve there and bowl a few more overs in the shorter format, that’s going to help me as well. So for me its just about making sure that, when you do get time you know it’s quite unique that it's never happened before, all of a sudden you’ve been prepared to be on the road, for the last two months, I mean to be in England playing county cricket and now you have so much downtime, so it’s a good opportunity to be learning from the situation and sort of reviewing your game and understanding what you can continue to do get better as a player. Those are the few areas that I have singled out, but yes, there are a few more as well.
Obviously, there are doubts on the India tour because of the progressing Coronavirus situation. What would it mean if India couldn’t come to tour Australia this summer?
It would mean we’re not playing cricket, which is pretty devastating for myself and for the team and for the rest of the country. We’re really hoping, because Australia has done really well with the quarantine and the isolation and stuff like that. So we’ve been able to get our numbers down relatively quickly and limited amount of deaths and our health care systems have been so good during this time, so got to thank a lot of people and hopefully because of all that good work we can actually get India out here in 3 or 4, 5 months. But if that wasn’t to happen then, it will be disappointing, but we just need to be ready, like I said I don’t know because everything is changing so quickly, it’s really hard to put my finger on how everything is going to pan out. Hopefully, it does pan out well, if not it will be very disappointing.