County Championship 2021
Missing IPL a blessing in disguise: Marnus
Marnus Labuschagne has admitted that being overlooked at the IPL auction was a "blessing in disguise" despite his T20 World Cup ambitions
29 April 2021, 08:17 AM AEST
Marnus Labuschagne has expressed concern for his Australia teammates caught up in India's coronavirus crisis while admitting that being overlooked at the Indian Premier League auction was a "blessing in disguise".
Labuschagne has linked up with Glamorgan again after a 2019 spell at the Welsh county helped propel him into the Test arena where he's gone on to become one of world's best batsmen.
Yet the 26-year-old admits his thoughts have also been on the escalating human disaster in India.
On Wednesday, India surpassed 200,000 COVID deaths amid a dreadful surge and hospitals have been overwhelmed at a time when the IPL continues to be played.
Some 30 Australian players, coaches and commentators are currently involved in the IPL, with three players – Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson – already having opted to fly home before the federal government paused direct flights to Australia from India until May 15.
"You obviously feel for them," Labuschagne said. "But I haven't spoken to too many guys that are feeling unsafe.
"It's more about getting back into Australia and what does that look like.
"I just hope that they stay safe and get back to Australia safely whenever they do."
Labuschagne had been keen to make his IPL debut and push his case for Australia selection ahead of the T20 World Cup later this year.
But he went unsold in the IPL auction and instead his runs helped Queensland to Marsh Sheffield Shield glory.
"It certainly looks like it was a blessing in disguise," Labuschagne said, of missing out on the IPL.
"I would love to have played in the IPL, it's a great tournament. But there's always two sides to the coin.
"If I was in the IPL, I would have been away and to win a Shield is something that doesn't come around often.
"Secondly, you look at the conditions in India now and it's not looking great.
"Being in Wales, things are opening up and that's a real positive. People are getting some freedom after the last 12 to 18 months.
"The potential to play 14 T20 Blast games – which is almost double what I've played in my career – is exciting because that's a part of my game that I haven't had much of an opportunity to develop," he said.
"It's a completely different format but the approach is still a thought-out one.
"I definitely want to play for Australia in all formats, but it's hard to make a case to play T20 cricket for Australia on the back of (16) career games."
Labuschagne showed glimpses of his potential in the shortest format in a late-season stint with the Brisbane Heat last summer that helped propel the club into the KFC BBL10 finals.
In six games after the Test series against India, Labuschagne scored 176 runs, striking at 123.07, and added 10 wickets with his leg-spin all while bringing his trademark high-voltage energy and enthusiasm to give the Heat an extra dimension.
A productive spell at Glamorgan for the first part of the 2019 county season, where he scored 1,114 runs in 10 matches, won him a place in Australia's Ashes squad that summer.
He now goes straight into the Glamorgan squad to face Kent in the County Championship on Thursday, a beneficiary of the rules in place in Wales that allow him to play even while still serving his isolation having only just arrived in the country.
Labuschagne has an eye on this winter's Ashes battle – hopefully in front of full houses.
"Considering we had crowds at almost every game this summer it would seem there will be crowds and that's exciting.
"Playing in front of crowds definitely changes the dynamic, but even without them you'd still have to turn up as a player and give it your all.
"You still have to try and win the Ashes for your country.
"There might not be the 30,000 people watching in the ground, but there are still millions of people watching on TV and they want to see a great spectacle and a good contest."