Qantas Tour of India 2020
Smith shares his advice for protege Labuschagne
The incredible summer of Marnus Labuschagne presents him with a fresh challenge as he faces an ODI debut in India and Australia star Steve Smith passes on his lessons
Aaron Pereira in Mumbai
14 January 2020, 08:28 AM AEST
Steve Smith has challenged Marnus Labuschagne to stay grounded after the 25-year-old's meteoric rise in international cricket.
The world's number two-ranked Test batsman says Labuschagne – ranked number three – can be a long-term player of influence for Australia if he keeps a level head.
"That's the real challenge for him now, having that amazing series, there's going to be that expectation there now and it's about managing that," Smith told cricket.com.au.
"The thing I like about Marnus is his willingness to learn and how quickly he picks things up, and if he continues to do that, he's going to be a huge player for Australia for a long time."
Labuschagne's stunning ascent in the international game has been a step ahead of even Smith, who famously debuted as a leg-spinning allrounder before returning to the side as a batsman in 2013, when he posted his maiden Test hundred.
As 25-year-olds, however, the pair experienced eerily similar home summers.
In 2014-15, playing in his first series as Test captain, Smith compiled an astonishing 769 runs at an average of 128.2 against India, including a century in each of the four Tests.
Fast forward five years and Labuschagne had an equally dominant season, posting 896 runs at an average of 112, also adding four centuries (two each against Pakistan and New Zealand).
The experienced Smith has been able to prolong his success in the years since his breakout summer and his advice for the green Labuschagne to do the same is simple.
"He's got a good head on his shoulders, he's got that belief in himself now that he can do it, now it's about resetting the clock every time he goes out to play," Smith added.
"He's got a really good understanding of how he wants to play and that's a huge thing for a young player.
"To have that understanding and be able to stick to something for a prolonged period of time and trust it's going to work, he's found that method now and I have no doubt he's going to get better."
The Test pairing of Smith and Labuschagne looks set to continue in the coloured-clothing, with Labuschagne expected to debut against India in the first ODI in Mumbai on Tuesday (7.30pm AEDT, Fox Cricket & Kayo).
Australia Qantas ODI Tour of India 2020
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (vc), Pat Cummins (vc), Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, David Warner, Adam Zampa
India squad: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami.
First ODI: January 14, Mumbai (D/N) (Fox & Kayo)
Second ODI: January 17, Rajkot (D/N) (Fox & Kayo)
Third ODI: January 19, Bengaluru (D/N) (Fox & Kayo)