Marnus Labuschagne's mother, Alta, had predicted on Thursday that her son would play in the first of the five-ODI series between Australia and South Africa on Friday despite him not being in the pre-decided playing XI.
Labuschagne was not even in the original squad for the series, getting in only because Steve Smith got injured. He was brought into the XI on Friday as a concussion substitute for Cameron Green. The all-rounder was hit behind the year by a nasty bouncer from Kagiso Rabada and had to walk off the pitch.
Labuschagne was announced as a sub a while later and came to bat when Australia were struggling at 72/5 in a chase of 223. The right-hander hit a superbly composed 93-ball 80 alongside Ashton Agar (48 off 69) to win Australia the match.
"What a roller-coaster!" he said in the post-match presentation. "Last night, my mum was adamant that I was playing, but I said I was not playing. Funny things happen after a concussion! I've been pretty disappointed with my One Day cricket game, so I decided to have a break and right the wrong things I've been doing. There were things that I wanted to improve against spin and pace. Didn't have the pressure last night of batting. It was great how things came together."
Concussion substitutes have been allowed since 2019. Intriguingly, Labuschagne became the first-ever concussion sub in international cricket during the second Test of that year's Ashes in England. He had replaced Smith, who was hit by a Jofra Archer bouncer, and similarly rescued his team with a 59 (100).
The Australian's life came almost a semi-circle on Friday. When he replaced Smith in 2019, his international career was nascent and he didn't have a lot of runs behind him. However, that innings (and three more consecutive half-centuries) made him un-droppable and kicked off his rise to being the top-ranked Test batter.
"Whatever happens with the world cup squad is out of my control" - Marus Labuschagne
Similar to 2019, Labuschagne's 80 has come at a stage when his returns in ODIs had gone so low that he was overlooked for Australia's World Cup squad as well. Asked if he has hope of getting into the squad now, the 29-year-old left it to the selectors.
"My job is to do whatever I can for my team," Labuschagne said. "Whatever happens with the world cup squad is out of my control. Nice to get the win tonight. The support that I always get when I come here, not just from my parents but from the South African fans and everyone is great."
Australia and South Africa will compete in the second ODI of the rubber on Saturday, September 9 at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein.