Labuschagne to lead as Bulls look to future

Australia star to take over Queensland captaincy next season from long-time skipper Usman Khawaja

Marnus Labuschagne will continue to enhance his leadership credentials after being appointed Queensland captain for the 2024-25 season.

Labuschagne takes the reins from Test opener Usman Khawaja who steps down from the role after 37 Sheffield Shield and 33 one-day matches at the helm – the Bulls fourth-longest serving skipper across all formats after Jimmy Maher, Stuart Law and James Hopes.

Khawaja will continue to lead the Brisbane Heat in KFC BBL|14.

Australia's Test No.3 had a taste of the Bulls leadership last season – his first senior captaincy experience – when he stepped in for Khawaja when he was rested for Shield and Marsh One-Day Cup matches against South Australia in February.

The Queensland Cricket board formally ratified the recommendation that Labuschagne be appointed captain last week as the state's looks to the future under new head coach Johan Botha.

Labuschagne will be tasked with lifting the Bulls from their first bottom-of-the-table finish in the Sheffield Shield in 16 years after a disappointing 2023-24 campaign where they won just three matches across both competitions.

The 29-year-old was the 56th man to lead Queensland in the Shield when he made his captaincy debut last season. Labuschagne got the nod full-time over long-time Bulls vice-captain Jimmy Peirson.

"Both Marnus and Usman are strong leaders and we're looking to the future by appointing Marnus to lead the Bulls," QC chief executive Terry Svenson said.

"Usman will continue to lead the championship Heat line-up and will maintain his presence around the Queensland squad during the captaincy transition, while extending his national team focus ahead of the coming international summer.

Labuschagne leads from front in captaincy debut

"It is an ideal opportunity for Marnus to once again showcase his leadership abilities and provide him with experience at first-class and one-day level.

"He and our players enjoyed the opportunity he had last season to lead the Bulls and Marnus is excited about the season ahead and working with new coach, Johan Botha."

Enhancing Labuschagne's leadership experience is also important for the future of Australian cricket. With current Test and ODI skipper Pat Cummins flagging he doesn't intend to do the job for the entirety of his playing career, Labuschagne was one of only two players alongside Cameron Green under the age of 30 in Australia's XI for their most recent Test against New Zealand in March.

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The right-hander, who is also an integral member of the nation's 50-over side with an unbeaten 58 in last year's World Cup final, is currently playing county cricket with his regular side Glamorgan where he brought up his 150th first-class appearance last month.

"I'm greatly honoured to be appointed Queensland captain. I've been in a very fortunate position to play alongside some exceptional leaders, and the chance to step up and do a job for the team I love is exciting," Labuschagne said in a statement.

"We have a great group of players and one of the aspects of the captaincy that I am most looking forward to is helping us to make the most of the structure and opportunities we are creating here in Queensland."

Khawaja, who led the Bulls to the Sheffield Shield title in 2020-21, finishes his Bulls tenure with a combined 30 wins from 70 matches as captain in the first-class and List A formats.

Khawaja led the Bulls to the Sheffield Shield title in 2020-21 // Getty

"It has been a privilege and an honour to skipper the Bulls since I got the opportunity in 2015 when James Hopes stepped down," he said.

"I'm looking forward to continuing to lead the Heat in the BBL which is such an important element to the game in this country and making the most of my playing opportunities with Queensland this season."

Both Khawaja and Labuschagne are set to join the Bulls for pre-season training from next month.