With the bat, he made 304 runs at a strike rate of 75.62. It raised questions about his place in the XI, especially with another anchor, Steven Smith in the team.
Australia kept the faith, and Labuschagne delivered in the final with an unbeaten 58 off 110 balls. It was tailor-made for him to stand alongside Travis Head, who built a strong platform with a barnstorming century. Labuschagne had walked out at 47 for 3. He said later that he didn’t need any clarity on how he had to approach it. By the time their 192-run stand ended with Head holing out in the deep, the trophy was just two runs away.
“I was quite nervous when I was waiting to bat,” Labuschagne told reporters. “But when you get on the field, nothing really changes. You’re watching the ball, and you just try and get in the zone, trying to focus, the noise sort of gets blocked out, it gets into the periphery, but it was loud. There was a bit of pressure there, but it was good.
“My mindset was you treat it like a Test match. When you’re batting with Travis Head, there’s usually no run-rate pressure. When you’re chasing a lower total like 230 , unless you’re really struggling, there’s not going to be much run-rate pressure. It was just about being nice and positive, but also lock-in like I would if I was playing a Test match, just making sure I was defending the ball well and when they bowled a bad ball, score off that. Just make sure you’re building a partnership with your partner out there.”
Labuschagne showed off his World Cup medal as he spoke. He wasn’t anywhere near Australia’s World Cup squad until two months ago. He’d even been left out of their tour party to South Africa, a precursor to their World Cup campaign, after averaging 22.30 at a strike rate of 69.87 in 14 innings prior to that.
As he prepared to play for Australia A against the touring New Zealand A in Brisbane, he was summoned to South Africa as a batting cover for Smith following an injury scare (wrist tendon). At the time, it was seen as nothing more than a trip to the country he hails from, except his mum, Alta, had an inkling that Labuschagne would play the series opener in Bloemfontein.
Labuschagne came in as a concussion sub for Cameron Green in the first ODI and finished the match 80 not out to seal a tense three-wicket win. The situation was similar to the Ashes Test at Lord’s in 2019, when he walked out to bat after Smith had been concussed, and then batted with poise against a raging pace attack.
Labuschagne said, “It’s hard for me not to believe in miracles. There’s someone above putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I think unofficially I was dropped five times. I wasn’t in the squad in South Africa, someone got concussed, I got an opportunity, got some runs and pushed my case. Then I got on the squad, and played 19 games in a row, since the first South Africa match. I’m very thankful to the coaches and selectors for sticking by me. I’m just very thankful they stuck by me and I lucked out.”
Labuschagne admitted that while his overall output was far from satisfactory, there had been shades of form in the nets. When he saw the surface for the final – a black soil deck that ended up aiding slow turn – he knew it was right down his alley.
“I didn’t get a hit against Bangladesh, I missed out on a few games to bat, but I felt like since the start of the South Africa tour, I’d been batting really well. Some of the scenarios that I came in during this World Cup have been tough. Three-four down early, trying to navigate those scenarios have been tough. That contributed a little bit of my demise,” Labuschagne said. “At times, I didn’t score as fast as I would’ve liked but the most important thing is winning games and today was a great example of just absorbing that pressure and making sure that I was there at the end.”
“As victory neared, Labuschagne derived satisfaction from silencing the home crowd. He touched upon how banking on past experience – he played a Test match here earlier in the year – had been beneficial in trying to keep out the noise.