Heat is on Marnus to prove T20 worth

Having conquered the Test and One-Day International arenas, Marnus Labuschagne has a “point to prove” as a Twenty20 player, according to Brisbane Heat coach Darren Lehmann.

Named on Thursday in Australia’s squad for upcoming ODI and T20 matches against India, Labuschagne also re-signed with the Heat for another BBL season.

“It’s always good to have high quality Australian players involved in the Heat,” former national team coach Lehmann said.

“He’s a three-format player. He wants to him improve his T20 play so he can play internationally.

“I’m really impressed with where he’s developed as a player, (his) all-round game.

“We’ve got to be really flexible within the group. He allows that and he can obviously bowl handy leg-spin as well, and he showed last year he can handle that middle-order role as well.”

Despite his meteoric rise to prominence, Labuschagne is yet to nail down a permanent spot in Australia’s T20 side.

“He’s got a point to prove and I’m sure he will,” Lehmann said.

“He’s always learning, (and) always improving.”

The highly sought-after @marnus3cricket AIN'T LEAVING! ? #MarnusSigns#BringTheHeat #BBL10 pic.twitter.com/R6j4ZXHYck

Australian coach Justin Langer said run-machine Labuschagne could be an “awesome part of the team” if he continued to develop his bowling.

“Marnus bowls for hours and hours and is getting better and better. He has massive upside,” Langer said.

“If you’ve got a top-order batsman who can bowl leg-spin with the passion and energy he does, he becomes an awesome part of the team.”

Labuschagne said he loved the “challenge” of improving and “being in the game all the time”. “That’s especially the case with playing in the BBL,” he said.

“T20 is a challenging format and I want to continue to get better when I get the chance.”

“Having had the chance to bat with (former Heat import) AB de Villiers and play with and against a number of brilliant players was a wonderful learning opportunity last season.

“I’m excited to turn those experiences into performances when I get on the field to play and help the Heat win as many games as possible.”

While Labuschagne’s Australian team commitments will eat into the BBL season, Lehmann hopes to have him for the closing stages of the Heat’s campaign.

“We’re confident there will be a window for him to play a number of games for us at the back end of the tournament” the Heat coach said.

“I know our fans will relish the chance to watch him when he does get to don the teal for us this season and we know he’s keen to play for us in as many games as possible.”

Following Tuesday’s news the South African de Villiers would not return to the Heat this season, Lehmann was hopeful of announcing another international signing “ASAP”.

“Availability’s the biggest thing for me. You’d love them there the whole time and at the moment, the unknown with international schedules is really making it hard to pick up certain players,” he said.

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