Labuschagne getting the Smith feel for Aus

Scott Bailey
Marnus Labuschagne's close bond with Steve Smith (l) is paying off, says coach Justin Langer

Marnus Labuschagne is following in Steve Smith's footsteps with the new Australian star's tight-knit friendship with the world's best a key to his success.

Labuschagne will arrive for Friday's pink-ball Test against Pakistan as the talk of the town in Adelaide, having shown himself to be an answer for Australia's at No.3.

The 25-year-old is now averaging 60.5 in the position across six innings, highlighted by his breakthrough century at the Gabba on Saturday.

He is also on top of the world this year for runs in first-class cricket, with his 2266 some 643 clear of Englishman Dom Sibley in second spot.

Labuschagne's new-found success can be put down to many things.

He slightly altered his technique as part of a vital County stint with Glamorgan, where he was the first player in the competition to 1,000 runs last winter.

He's had coaching both sides of the globe with some of the world's best, ranging from Michael Clarke and Phillip Hughes' old mentor Neil D'Costa to former England Test player Matthew Maynard.

The Queenslander's 129 days of cricket between November 2018 and November 2019 were also the most of any elite player across the world according to a Cricinfo survey.

But crucially, according to coach Justin Langer, he is also learning from the very best through his close bond with the former Australian captain.

"The most heartening thing is his relationship with Steve Smith, the best player in the world," Langer said.

"They spend time, they talk cricket. They love it. Literally all they do is talk cricket.

"They eat together, they have breakfast and lunch together. They have coffee together. They have dinner together talking cricket.

"They bat No.3 and No.4 together. To bat with him in the middle and spend time with the best player in the world and an ex-captain.

"You could not have a better education than he is getting at the moment."

Labuschagne could turn out to one of Australia's great out-of-the-box selections.

Before he was brought in as a concussion substitute for Smith in this year's Ashes, several were scratching their heads over his debut last year in the UAE.

At one point it looked like he could have been destined to become the anti-Smith. Picked in the team as a batsmen only to develop into a legspinner.

But gut feel - and not just from selectors but the likes of Steve Waugh on the Ashes - has paid off.

"It's an art and a science, isn't it?" Langer said of selection.

"You use the data, use the numbers, use the analogies of what people are like and use what you see as well.

"He (Waugh) could see it within watching three hours of his first training session for a long time. The point is you have to use everything.

"People like Marnus, you see someone with incredible work ethic, incredible hunger to get better, very coachable and incredible energy.

"He brings so much to the team, not just batting and bowling, you have got to weigh up all those sorts of things."