Marnus Labuschagne turned match-winning bowler to send the Brisbane Heat back to the Big Bash finals

Marnus Labuschagne felt like the worm turned on Australia Day – propelling Brisbane Heat to the BBL finals ahead of a cherished Test tour of South Africa.

Labuschagne underlined his triple threat status taking 3-35, posting 46 from 38 balls and a catch to dismiss Jason Roy off Mitch Swepson in Brisbane’s nail-biting six run win against Perth in Adelaide.

Brisbane’s four point bounty secured a first finals slot in four years and proved cathartic after Australia’s shock Test series loss to India.

“I love the game and think the quick change of format just gives me that clarity of mind. You probably don’t overthink it as much what happened in that Test series,” said Labuschagne, Australia’s most consistent batsman against India with 426 runs this Test summer at 53.25.

Australia’s first Test loss in 32 years at its Gabba fortress meant India retained the Border Gavaskar series 2-1.

“It was a very disappointing loss but just have to make sure we learn from those situations. It is nice to come back to Big Bash, a little bit of colour, a nice competition to be part of.”

Domination from @marnus3cricket! Back-to-back Player of the Match performances 👌 #HeatWIN#BBLFinals #BringtheHEAT #BBL10

Labuschagne will front for his adopted country, Australia, on a maiden Test tour of his birth nation next month in South Africa. Labuschagne notched a ton on his first one-day tour of South Africa last year but a Test series there is special.

“I love Test cricket, it is always exciting when you get to play against the best opposition,” said Labuschagne ahead of a series Australia must win to make the ICC Test Championship final at Lord’s in June.

“We have just played against one of the best oppositions. To go to South Africa and have to win there is an exciting challenge and I am really looking forward it.”

Brisbane entered the last game of the regular season in sixth spot but was rewarded for taking the game on with a 7/181 total. The leg-spin of Labuschagne and Swepson (2-20) unravelled Perth in contrast to counterpart Fawad Ahmed who conceded 0-52.

“I am happy with any wickets I get. It was just making sure me and Sweppo had the right plan. I think we are a big threat. It is exciting for us to get in there,” said Labuschagne.

“It is an exciting thing for us going into the finals. We haven’t put the perfect game in and we snuck in.”

Seamer Mark Steketee (0-54) had an off day against the Heat but is second on the BBL wicket tally with 22 this season.

Labuschagne has played cricket since under-12s with Steketee and believes the paceman could earn a T20 squad call-up for Australia in New Zealand next month or the Test tour of South Africa that will run concurrently.

“He has developed so much, a real hunger, aggression has been great and been able to perform really well for us in all formats, one-day, Shield cricket and T20s,” said Labuschagne of Steketee.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he was on one of those squads.”

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