Steve Smith sounds word of warning for Marnus Labuschagne
MARNUS Labuschagne has completed the easiest year of his international career, leaving Steve Smith to warn the summer revelation that second-year blues often bring rising batsmen crashing back to earth.
But Smith backed Labuschagne's insatiable thirst for training and love for the game to keep his bullet-like rise tracking north.
"Your first year can sometimes be your easiest in a way, where guys don't really know how to bowl to you," Smith told the Sunday Herald Sun.
"They call it the second-year blues. Guys are going to look at him closely and have plans for him.
"It's about being able to counter those. I'm confident that he'll be able to do that, because of the way he thinks about the game and his willingness to improve, get better and work hard.
"I've no doubt he'll be fine."
Smith, 30, and Labuschagne, 25, shared a brilliant 96-run partnership (94 balls) against India on Friday night as Australia got a look at the new No.3 and No.4 pairing it wants to last until the 2023 World Cup.
Labuschagne (46 off 47 balls) looked remarkably composed in his maiden white-ball innings, while Smith stood at the non-striker's end stunned at a pair of Labuschagne boundaries that belied his experience.
"The way Marnus played in his first hit, to have the courage to hit one over mid-off off Kuldeep (Yadav) really early on, that just shows he's got something about him," Smith said.
"We know he's in terrific form, he's been batting beautifully, but transferring that into one-day cricket now is another thing.
"I thought he looked exceptionally good. He hit the gaps hard, ran hard between the wickets and played some nice shots.
"The one over cover off (Ravi) Jadeja was a beautiful shot and he looked right at home."
Smith praised how "busy" Labuschagne was as the pair scored on 31 out of their first 36 balls together.
Labuschagne has acted like a sponge around Smith, shadowing him around ever since they became teammates in last year's Ashes series.
While watching Smith blast a cover drive in the Mumbai nets last week, Labuschagne called out to him: "Goodness me - that is a beautiful cricket shot!"
Coach Justin Langer has dubbed Smith and Labuschagne the "master and apprentice" since Labuschagne got his Test chance during the Ashes because Smith was KO'd by Jofra Archer.
"It (my concussion) gave him an opportunity which he's obviously taken with both hands," Smith said.
"His constant improvement over the last 12 months has been incredible, really.
"His willingness to improve and get better and now he's found a game plan that works for him. Obviously for him the challenge now is to continue that."
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