Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar paid Australian batsman Marnus Labuschagne the ultimate compliment on Friday, singling him out as the player most like himself.
Labuschagne emerged from nowhere to become Test cricket’s leading scorer last year with 1,104 runs, including 896 since November — beating the great Neil Harvey (834) for the most scored by an Australian in a five-Test summer.
None of this may have happened if Labuschagne had not grabbed his chance as a concussion substitute for Steve Smith during Australia’s Ashes campaign in England last August.
He made the most of the opportunity, reeling off four consecutive half-centuries and finishing the Ashes with 353 runs at 50.42, before an incredible summer series against Pakistan and New Zealand.
Tendulkar was at Lord’s when Labuschagne came on as Test cricket’s first-ever concussion substitute and was immediately impressed.
“His footwork was incredible, so he would be the one I would say,” Tendulkar said in Sydney when asked if any modern-day player reminds him of himself.
“I saw Marnus getting hit (on the helmet) off the second ball from Jofra Archer and post that, the 15 minutes he batted, I said ‘this player looks special, there is something about him’.”
“Footwork is not physical, it’s mental,” he added.
“If you’re not thinking positively in your mind, then your feet don’t move. That clearly indicated to me that this guy is mentally strong because if you’re not, your feet will not move.”
Tendulkar, India’s greatest-ever player, who scored 15,921 runs from 200 Tests, smacking 51 centuries, is in Australia to take part in a charity match on Sunday in Melbourne to raise funds for bushfire relief.