Marnus Labuschagne is relishing his role as Brisbane’s middle-overs wicket taker as the Heat’s unlikely Big Bash League finals tilt gathers pace.
The world’s No.3 Test batsman has been thrown the ball boldly by captain Chris Lynn and delivered, taking nine wickets from just 11 overs in his four matches this season.
The legspinner’s gone for just seven runs an over too, with his 3-13 against Adelaide on Friday helping the Heat to their first BBL finals win since they won their sole title in 2013.
Alongside fringe Test spinner Mitchell Swepson, who has six wickets in four games and conceded just 6.75 runs per over, they have successfully filled the void left by Afghanistan favourite Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
“I love being in the game and it’s been really nice to bowl more overs and get the team in a position,” Labuschagne said.
“The guys who bowl before me build the pressure and it means teams need to come hard at me at the 11, 12-over mark.
“It’s the twin leggies, I love it; we’ve played cricket for a long time together, enjoy working on plans, fields and it’s great to see him bowling so well too.”
Labuschagne had teammate Ben Laughlin to thank for his third wicket at the Gabba on Friday night, the 38-year-old sprinting around the boundary and leaping to take one of the catches of the tournament to dismiss Michael Nesar.
Wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson said it was one of the best catches he’d ever seen.
“I didn’t think he was going to get there and he pulled out the big swan dive,” Labuschagne said.
“Fielding is an attitude and he’s one of our best at 38, so it’s great to see him leading the charge like that.”
The Heat had to win to make the finals and after Friday’s six-wicket triumph still require three more consecutive victories, the next against Sydney Thunder in Sunday’s knockout final, to claim the title.