Glamorgan’s Australia batter Marnus Labuschagne is relishing the prospect of an intense “heated battle” with Nottinghamshire and England paceman Stuart Broad.
The pair are likely to face off in a County Championship Division Two game at Trent Bridge on Thursday, 14 April.
“I won’t expect anything less from Broad and you can’t expect anything less from me,” said Labuschagne.
“I think James Pattinson is back as well, it’ll be a very heated battle.”
Labuschagne, the world’s top-ranked Test batsman, has arrived from a multi-format tour of Pakistan to play five Championship matches and a handful of T20 games in his latest spell at Glamorgan.
In 2021 he faced Broad’s England colleague Jimmy Anderson in his second match back in the UK, away to Lancashire, falling for just 12 on that occasion.
“It’s so exciting to see these high-quality players playing county cricket, they’ve shown amazing careers in international cricket and hopefully that continues for both Jimmy and Broady,” he told BBC Sport Wales.
“It’s always nice to play them in county cricket. It lifts the standard and makes you a better player, so I can’t wait to get into the battle again.”
‘Shock’ on selection
England supporters continue to debate the wisdom of leaving out veteran fast bowlers Broad, 35, and Anderson, 39, who each played in three out of five Tests in the one-sided Ashes defeat and were subsequently omitted entirely from the series defeat in the West Indies.
“I can only speak from my experience, when the toss went up at the Gabba [Brisbane, first Test in December 2021] and there was no Stuart Broad or Jimmy Anderson, there were a few Australian batsmen going ‘that is good news’,” Labuschagne said.
“They’re highly skilled individuals, highest wicket-takers for England, and I’m always shocked when I don’t see them in a squad.”
One of the solutions floated for the England and Wales Cricket Board review of the current Test team travails is a concentration on 12 ‘Premier League’ counties.
So how does Labuschagne feel about the current 18-team system?
“I’ve always loved coming back to play county cricket, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t enjoy it and love the challenge,” he said.
“Last summer the wickets were very challenging all around the country, the spinners don’t get much opportunity to bowl, but I learned a lot about my game.
“Understandably, when you go up and play international cricket there’s some key differences when you come up against quicker bowling, bouncier wickets, playing away Test series, that make it challenging.
“Sometimes I don’t think county cricket gives you those skills, but you can certainly build off a lot of the skills that you learn in county cricket.”
Labuschagne has credited Glamorgan coach Matthew Maynard with helping to develop his game before his breakthrough Test series.
“We always stay in touch, our relationship doesn’t just stay here [in Wales]. Wherever I am, if I’ve got ideas or I feel like I need someone I can lean on, he’s always one of my first to call,” Labuschagne said.
A lengthy 90-minute batting session with Maynard in the nets at Sophia Gardens marked his first step back into British cricket, five days after arriving from Pakistan.
“Having a hit, one of my favourite things to do is having not many people around, just you and a couple of people. It gives you that clarity of mind, you can really immerse yourself in what you’re trying to do in the game.”
Labuschagne will reunite with Queensland and Australia team-mate Michael Neser in Glamorgan colours, with the seamer likely to play against Nottinghamshire after missing the first-round draw against Durham with a side strain.
“I love playing with Marnus, he’ll be full of beans and ready to go as usual,” declared Neser.
“Marnus is a character and I’m sure he’ll make a big impact. He makes things exciting, when you’ve got a day raining, he makes the changing room enjoyable.
“He’s non-stop, cricket all year round, all day, all night, he’s very attentive to his game and very passionate about cricket – as he shows on the field.”