Labuschagne not moving even for Steve Smith
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Good luck trying to bump Marnus Labuschagne from No.3 in the Australian Test batting order.
Labuschagne has been a shining light since coming into the Test team as a concussion sub for Steve Smith during the Ashes.
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The 25-year-old has plundered runs for fun since then, and his hot series against Pakistan means he now has an iron grip on the No.3 spot. But even up until very recently it wasn't the case.
"There was a conversation at one stage about maybe moving him down the order, sort of starting him at five, but he didn't want a bar of it," Australia captain Tim Paine said.
"He wanted to go out at three. He wants to be a star Test match international cricketer.
"He sees himself as a No.3. He wants that challenge. He'd be hard to move out of there now, that's for sure.
"We're rapt with the way he's started in that position and looking forward to watching him continue to get better."
Labuschagne averages 53.52 in Test cricket. That average rises to 75 when batting at No.3.
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Labuschagne plundered scores of 185 and 162 in his two knocks during the 2-0 series win over Pakistan.
He looms as a key player in the three-Test series against NZ, which gets underway with a pink-ball clash in Perth on Thursday.
The first four days of the Test are forecast to reach temperatures of around 40 degrees, meaning Labuschagne's leg-spin might also come in handy to help give the other bowlers a rest.
Spinner Nathan Lyon has been impressed by the improvement in Labuschagne's bowling.
"I'm a big fan of Marnus. His cricket has improved out of sight over the last 12 months," Lyon said.
"I'm more than happy to help him out whenever I get the opportunity. He's been a massive help with my batting as well, which has been handy."