The quality of the attack left something to be desired but making runs at the Gabba wasn’t as straightforward as many seemed to think. There was still bounce in the track and there were times on day three where Australia were made to look uncomfortable, especially against the newer ball.
David Warner could only add three runs in an hour before departing for 154 but Labuschagne was content to be the prime mover. He’s a meticulous cricketer, much like Smith, and didn’t give Pakistan so much as a sniff of his wicket until he was on 93, when the finger was raised after Yasir’s appeal for LBW.
Labuschagne signalled for a review the moment he saw the umpire’s arm move and he was right to be so confident with his challenge, given he had got a thick inside edge on the ball.
He was a rock for Australia in the Ashes, averaging 50.42 in seven innings in England after coming in as a concussion replacement for Smith. He honed his game in county cricket before his call-up and wants to be a man for all seasons and conditions.
He found another gear on Saturday on his springy home track and an inexperienced Pakistan seam attack could not tempt him into anything resembling a false shot outside off stump until late in the piece, when he finally sliced one to Babar Azam at gully off Shaheen Afridi.
In the stands, proud father Andre said he had seen Marnus put in years of work and dedication to the craft and he was now reaping the rewards. And it was fitting the moment arrived at the Gabba, where Labuschagne has a long history on and off the playing surface.
In 2010, he earned the princely sum of $90-a-day to help move the hot-spot spot camera for Nine. A mate hooked him up with the gig and he was on hand to watch Peter Siddle collect his Ashes hat-trick.
In 2014, he took a memorable catch at short-leg against India after being sent out as a substitute fielder. Few outside of Queensland grade cricket ranks knew anything about him. Five years later, he was saluting the crowd for his maiden century and went perilously close to making it a double.
“It is a special moment. It’s been one of those dreams come true. I don’t know… he worked hard for it and it’s always been his passion. To see him have success, it’s just amazing,” Andre said. “He enjoys the Gabba and has worked hard at it. He was quite relaxed before today and with all of the experience he’s got over the last 12 months, it’s all started to come together for him.
“He’s got the drive and passion for it and to see all of that pay off is one of the most pleasing things.”
Labuschagne had six Test 50s when he resumed at 55 on Saturday. He dearly wanted to convert on this occasion and with his side in complete control and ideal batting conditions helping his cause, there were very few hiccups apart from the incorrect LBW that was swiftly consigned to history.
He plays with a theatrical leave outside off stump that reminds some of Smith. Combined with that man, a refreshed David Warner and a solid Joe Burns, Labuschagne completes a top four that will prove to be a formidable assignment for Pakistan and then New Zealand later this summer.