No comparison with Smith, says Australia hero Labuschagne
Marnus Labuschagne insists he should not be compared to Steve Smith after the Australia batsman continued his phenomenal run of form with another century against New Zealand.
Labuschagne finished day one at the SCG unbeaten on 130 as the hosts, who already have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, reached 283-3.
It was Labuschagne's fourth ton of the Australian summer, having reached three figures in back-to-back Tests versus Pakistan, and prolonged an extended purple patch.
After entering the Ashes as Test cricket's first concussion substitute when Jofra Archer struck Smith at Lord's, the 25-year-old scored four consecutive fifties to cement his place in the Australia side.
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"I haven't had time to sit down and think about how the whole year has unfolded, it's been pretty special," he said, before referencing the stuttering start that followed his Test debut against Pakistan in October 2018.
Glorious! #AUSvNZ pic.twitter.com/uBiaLHmKiF — cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 3, 2020
"This time last year I was sitting here and there was a lot of questions. I'm thankful for the opportunity and scoring runs is always nice. I never take it for granted though, because it can turn very quickly.
"I'm definitely not comfortable. You grow in confidence facing the same opposition – you get used to bowler, you get used to their actions."
Smith, who played a supporting hand with 63, finds himself in the unusual position of not being his side's heaviest runs scorer, although Labuschagne believes he has a long way to go before he reaches the same levels as the former captain.
"I wouldn't be drawing any comparisons to Steve yet," he said. "He's played 73 Tests and averages 63. He's been doing it for a long time and his consistency is amazing.
"Today he showed it again. We do spend a bit of time together and I do enjoy batting with him – watching him go about it and how he figures out different plans.
"It is nice. Once we're both in we talk about different things out there. Nothing changes, I still love batting with him."
Indeed, Labuschagne enjoys batting with Smith so much that he was largely unaware of his team-mate taking 39 deliveries to get off the mark – the latter's duel with left-arm paceman Neil Wagner continuing in absorbing fashion.
Getting off the mark off your 39th ball? A sigh of relief for Steve Smith! #OhWhatAFeeling @toyota_aus | #AUSvNZ pic.twitter.com/U3t0oS6aTn — cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 3, 2020
"I actually had no idea he was on zero until the 38th ball. I actually thought we were rotating the strike quite well, which is quite funny," Labuschagne chuckled.
"I wondered what all the carry on was and he was like, 'I'm on zero'."
The final Test of Australia's home season is taking place against the backdrop of bushfires ravaging the country and Labuschagne paid tribute to the firefighters trying to tackle the situation
"If all we did today was create a distraction of a bit of enjoyment for people in these tough times then that's a win for us," he added.
"But the focus should be on the firies [firefighters] and what they're doing for the community. That's the most important thing at this moment in time."