Marnus Labuschagne in action for Australia.
Marnus Labuschagne in action for Australia.

The unusual Ashes day job that inspired a future star

Marnus Labuschagne was pushing the hot-spot camera from side to side for Channel 9 at the Gabba in 2010 when he saw his "coolest" Ashes moment.

The South African born batsmen fell in love with the Australia-England contest in 2005 when, as 11-year-old cricket-nut freshly moved to Queensland, he devoured arguably the greatest ever series on TV.

But his fondest Ashes memory came five years later when, from the second level of the grandstand, he witnessed the Peter Siddle hat-trick in the first Test of the 2010/11 series, a magic moment he was paid to watch.

 

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"I was doing hotspot for the game, up on the second level, like moving the camera from side to side, and I was there for the hat-trick, that was pretty cool," Labuschagne said in Birmingham, days out from possibly making his own Ashes debut.

 

Marnus Labuschagne is poised to graduate from Ashes spectator to combatant this winter.
Marnus Labuschagne is poised to graduate from Ashes spectator to combatant this winter.

 

"I was literally a ring-in, I knew some guy and I got paid to watch the game, so it was a win for me back then. I was getting paid, like $90 a day, to move the camera around.

"I love watching old games, the 2005 Ashes. It's in my memory because I watch it, I watch the old footage.

"It was one of the best series, even though Australia lost, it was pretty awesome in terms of the competitive nature, there was drama, (Glenn) McGrath got injured, we lost the two Tests after that.

"I love watching those tough, competitive series and how guys played."

As cricket nuffies go in the current Australian squad, Labuschagne rivals former captain Steve Smith for king nerd.

 

 

He has a fervour for bats in particular that's hard to match, and is carting 10 around England. Smith, Labuschagne said, has 15.

But also within Labuschagne's kitbag is a bat that may, or may not, have belonged to England captain Joe Root.

"I've been playing with Billy Root at Glamorgan, Joe Root's brother, and he uses all of Joe's bats. I have one of his bats in my room at the moment," he said.

"I love bats, I love the gear, I love talking bats, fine details, changes, handle shapes, how the bat taps, the length of the blade."

 

A self-confessed cricket nerd, Labuschagne has 10 different bats with him on tour.
A self-confessed cricket nerd, Labuschagne has 10 different bats with him on tour.

 

Labuschagne even has a "workshop" at home in Brisbane, where he fixes his own bats when they need it.

But he can't fix the one which helped him earn Ashes selection.

Labuschagne remains the leading run-scorer in English county cricket this season, having "pounded down the door" as per national selectors instructions with 1114, runs, including five hundreds, for Glamorgan, which was key in him retaining his place in the Test squad.

"I've literally used one bat the whole summer here. It's a beautiful bat, and it broke last game," he said.

But he's got a new one, game ready too, which he carried with him through the team hotel on Sunday.

 

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And right down the bottom is a sticker he had specially made, one which goes on all his bats.

It's a picture of an eagle, a reference to one of his favourite Bible passages.

"For those who hope in the Lord, He shall renew their strength," the passage reads.

"They shall soar on wings like eagles; they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not be faint."

If Labuschagne can live up to those words in the Ashes, Australia's batting order could yet be in good hands.