FORMER Plymouth batsman Marnus Labuschagne is set to make his debut for Australia in the first Test against Pakistan, which gets under way in Dubai tomorrow (Sunday).
The 24year old, who was born in South Africa, emigrated to Australia aged 10 when his father took a job in the mining industry.
Labuschagne grew up speaking Afrikaans and only started to learn English after moving to Queensland wit his family.
He played State cricket through the age-groups from 15-19 and arrived in Plymouth in 2013 fresh from skippering Queensland in the national championships.
Labuschagne had a productive season at Mount Wise. He was the leading run getter in the Premier Division with 730 at an average of 60.93 and a top score of 130 not out against Bradninch. He took a ton off North Devon as well.
He also played midweek cricket for Devon Dumplings, following in the footsteps of Chris Rogers, who went on to represent Australia after a stint in Devon League cricket.
A season with sandwich in the Kent League was even more productive: three tons and eight 50s in a tally of 1,049 runs at 74.92.
Matt Hooper, who skippered Plymouth when Labuschagne was there, said he was not surprised to see him break into Test cricket.
He was obviously very good and his DCL record for an 18 year old was amazing,” said Hooper, who now plays for Andover.
“He had a great attitude to his cricket and was an example to all of how much dedication is required to succeed.
“I am really pleased for him, his hard work has paid off and he is living his dream.
“I know all the members at Plymouth are very proud of him and pleased that he is doing so well.”
Within two years of leaving Plymouth, Labuschange was playing for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield competition.
Consistent performances for Queensland and Brisbane Heat earned Labuschagne a place in the Australia A one-day and four-day sides.
Australia A have just completed a tour to Dubai, playing India and Pakistan in both formats, and Labuschagne’s form made him irresistible to the selectors.
"Marnus has played quite a bit of cricket on the A tour and he's in really good form and he deserves a chance,” said Aussie skipper Tim Paine.