Labuschagne has enjoyed an excellent few months since he made a comeback to the Australian side as Smith’s concussion substitute in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s. He’s established his place in the side with a record summer that saw him rise from No.98 on the batting charts before that tour of England to No.3 on the ICC Test rankings earlier this year.
A happy side note of that rise has been the partnership he’s developed with Smith in that time, both on and off the field. With bat in hand, the duo, both of them similar in their single-mindedness when it comes to preparation and concentration, have shared many a vital stand for Australia. Coach Justin Langer has described them as ‘master and apprentice’.
Last five partnerships between Smith and Labuschagne:
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 19, 2020
Smith and Labuschagne have batted together 10 times across formats, and only thrice has their partnership not exceeded 65.
In fact, in the last five innings, including the Tests against New Zealand and the ODIs against India, their partnerships have been: 132, 83, 156, 96, 127.
Their numbers make them the most successful pair since the start of September, across formats.
Happily, for Australia, the runs have come at a brisk rate in the ODIs. While in Rajkot in the second ODI, their 96-run third-wicket stand came off 94 balls, in Bengaluru, in the decider, they soaked up the pressure from 46-2 in the ninth over, carrying the side to 173 in the 32nd.
“They certainly are [long-lost brothers],” Aaron Finch, the Australia limited-overs captain, said about the duo. “They love batting together, they spend every minute of the day together. I think the only time they don’t spend with each other is when they sleep.”
“It (my concussion) gave him an opportunity which he’s obviously taken with both hands,” Smith said before the third ODI. “His constant improvement over the last 12 months has been incredible, really. His willingness to improve and get better and now he’s found a game plan that works for him. Obviously for him the challenge now is to continue that.”