South Africa v Australia ODI - Men's
Emotional Marnus reflects on memorable homecoming
Marnus Labuschagne capped off his return to South Africa with a maiden ODI hundred in the final match of the tour
Martin Smith in Potchefstroom
8 March 2020, 12:36 PM AEST
After an emotional return to the country of his birth, Marnus Labuschagne thanked every member of his extended family who watched his maiden one-day international century in Potchefstroom on Saturday, saying they’ve all played a role in his development that now sees him as one of the best batsmen in the world.
Labuschagne’s return to his homeland for the first time as a professional cricketer has brought tales of his childhood in the town of Klerksdorp – where he spent the first nine years of his life before his family emigrated to Australia – to the surface.
Aunties have shared stories of how a five-year-old Labuschagne would don his pads and gloves and sit on the couch to watch international cricket on television, and how he would bribe members of his extended family to throw balls at him in the backyard.
And after those same family members watched him score an emotional hundred against South Africa on Saturday – all up, there were 50 of Labushagne’s relatives and friends in the stands – Australia’s new No.4 couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
“I was playing cricket 24/7,” he recalled of his childhood in South Africa.
“It was my uncles, when we were here, to throw me balls, my sister when we were in Australia to feed me balls in the bowling machine.
“Everyone's played a part in some way or another, just with their support or feeding balls or throwing.
“My mum, my dad used to sit in the chair for hours and hours and either hit (balls) and I'd be taking diving catches or if I missed the throw, then I'd have to run around because he's not going to get off the chair.
“But that's just the way it is, family is such a big part of my life and it was a nice experience to be able to play in front of them today.”
No one was more thrilled on Saturday than Labuschagne’s maternal grandmother Ansie, who also made the five-hour journey to watch her grandson play in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
Ansie had never been much of a cricket fan in her early days, but her grandson’s rise through the ranks has changed all that and she now stays up to all hours of the night to watch cricket matches from the other side of the world.
On Saturday, cricket.com.au cameras were in the stands as the Labuschagne clan rose to their feet to celebrate his hundred, and no one’s reaction was sweeter than Ansie’s.
What a moment for the Labuschagne family overnight! #SAvAUS pic.twitter.com/C9sUxtt79i— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) March 7, 2020
“Both my grandparents were here today, it's so special,” Labuschagne said.
“The love and support that I've got from them for a very long time now, since I started playing cricket, when I first started for Queensland, they were always interested and they always cared.
“It's really nice to be able to perform in front of them, especially after I got a duck last time (in Bloemfontein).
“Both my grandparents, they're amazing and it's a real privilege to have them both here.
“I think my grandma would have shed some tears today, that's for sure.”
Australia's Qantas Tour of South Africa 2020
Australia T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitch Marsh, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (vc), Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
First T20: Australia won by 107 runs
Second T20: South Africa won by 12 runs
Third T20: Australia won by 97 runs
First ODI: South Africa won by 74 runs
Second ODI: South Africa won by six wickets
Third ODI: South Africa won by six wickets