Grade cricket looms for in-form Marnus

Test batsmen Marnus Labuschagne and Joe Burns could be star attractions in the one-day final of Brisbane's grade-cricket competition.

MARNUS LABUSCHAGNE.
MARNUS LABUSCHAGNE. Picture: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Australia's form batsman Marnus Labuschagne may return to where it all began on Sunday, when his grade club Redlands contest a one-day final in Brisbane.

Labuschagne starred with bat and ball in Queensland's Sheffield Shield opener, helping secure a dramatic final-hour victory over Tasmania in Adelaide on Tuesday.

The Bulls' Shield campaign was set to continue on Monday, but this week's revamp of the schedule means they are now out of action until October 30.

That hiatus could pave the way for Labuschagne to make a rare grade-cricket appearance for Redlands and potentially take on fellow Test batsman Joe Burns (Norths) this weekend.

A final decision on the availability of the duo, who both hold national contracts, is expected on Thursday.

Labuschagne compiled a record-breaking 896 Test runs in 2019-20 and started this season in similar form, dominating Tim Paine's team earlier this week while producing the highest score of his Shield career.

The 26-year-old backed up a knock of 167 with a last-gasp wicket on day four, breaking a stubborn partnership as he did in last year's decisive fourth Ashes Test when he forced the dismissal of England's Jack Leach.

"You've seen this incredible rise in his batting, but you've never seen anybody bowl more," national coach Justin Langer said on SEN.

"Marnus bats a lot, but he just bowls for hours and hours and hours and hours.

"Usually when you do that, you get better.

"I don't think he'll ever become a frontline leggie.

"But if you've got a top-order batsman in Test or one-day cricket who can bowl legspin with the passion and energy he does, he becomes an awesome part of the team."

Labuschagne has maintained a close connection to Redlands since making his Test debut in 2018, regularly mentoring young players from the club.

Queensland captain Usman Khawaja admitted he was frustrated about the Shield fixture change.

"It's disappointing that we're not playing game two ... it doesn't really make too much sense," Khawaja said.

Cricket Australia rejigged its Shield schedule to ensure Victoria, having trained under more stringent rules compared to other states, were better prepared for their season-opening game.