Labuschagne learnt control lessons for ton

Scott Bailey
Marnus Labuschagne has broken through for his maiden Test ton after learning to manage his nerves

Marnus Labuschagne had to rein himself in and temper his aggression to beat the half-century curse that had plagued him before Saturday's maiden Test ton.

Already established as an answer to Australia's top-order conundrum, Labuschagne finally got the three-figure reward.

Five times in his eight previous Test innings, Labuschagne had passed 50.

And five times he'd been dismissed short of 100.

Likewise, in this Sheffield Shield season alone the South African-born star had hit three half-centuries without converting one to triple figures.

It prompted a conversation with his long-time coach Neil D'Costa, who has previously worked with the likes of Michael Clarke and Phillip Hughes.

"Neil actually said 'mate, just hit the ball to long-on and get to the other end (when you're close to a big milestone)," Labuschagne said.

"That's the sort of thing that I think sometimes when you're going really well you almost try and play too many shots.

"And (on Saturday) that's kind of what I was trying to do.

"You really want to bring it up because you get a bit anxious in the 90s and you really want to bring it up. To try and keep it simple."

Even then, Labuschagne didn't quite nail it.

He tightened up in the 90s and brought up his hundred when he went hard at one from Shaheen Shah Afridi and edged it through the slips for four.

"You think about it but you don't. Like: 'I want to get a hundred, but focus here'," Labuschagne said.

"It's a catch 22. But there was definitely times out there were I was like 'just let me get there'.

"I was thinking, 'Just stay patient, they're going to come and you can get your shot'.

"(Telling myself to) hit it to long-on, but then I'd try and go over cover or lap sweep.

"I need to improve in that area and make sure I'm taking the easy runs on offer."

But on Saturday it was enough.

So too did it reaffirm the suggestion the 25-year-old can hold down the No.3 spot long term.

Saturday's knock was the highest by an Australian No.3 since Steve Smith's double-century batting there at Lord's in the 2015 Ashes.

But Smith is most comfortable at No.4, and the Aussies have been looking for a man to bat at the all-important first-drop for the majority of the decade.

Labuschagne now shapes as that answer.