Million-dollar Marnus cashes in on epic summer
MARNUS Labuschagne's solid white-ball debut in India will seal the million-dollar pay rise his stunning Test form franked this summer.
Run machine Labuschagne is expected to complete one of the most dramatic contact leaps ever by an emerging player when he rises from outside the 20-man list into somewhere in the top five and a deal of around $1.5 million.
Labuschagne was left off Australia's 20-man list chosen last March, pipped by Usman Khawaja, Marcus Harris, Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh who are expected to miss out this time.
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He was given an entry-level $250,000 contract after accruing contract points during the Ashes series but is set to be the major mover in the revised list after a stunning run surge against New Zealand and Pakistan in the home Test series.
That form prompted the national selectors to send him to India where he scored 46 and 54 in his first 50-over appearances for his country in January.
These innings may be a small sample size but they will ensure that Labuschagne, who initially blossomed as a 50-over player in interstate cricket, will have a solid white ball ranking when Australia's selectors finalise the contract list after the looming 50-over tour of South Africa.
The players' final position on this list is a combination of rankings they are given in Test and white ball cricket.
This time last year Australia's selectors were wondering who would fill their top five spots from an out-of-form team humbled by India last summer - now they face the opposite challenge as they sift through a log jam of in-form talent.
Pat Cummins is expected to rightfully retain his ranking as the No.1 player with a salary of around $2.5 million, but competition for the next few places will be intense.
Steve Smith and David Warner were in the top five last year and stunning form spikes - Smith in England and Warner in Australia - should ensure they retain their rankings.
While the rankings are a combination of form over the past year and a predicted level for the new summer, the long term bankability of Smith and Warner could give them the edge over Labuschagne who has only blossomed in the last year.
Australia's next Test series with be in Bangladesh mid-year featuring a squad likely to include wrist-spinner Mitch Swepson and left-arm spinner Ashton Agar.
In one Test on the last tour of Bangladesh Australia played just one fast bowler and though Australia believes its mighty pace attack can conquer the world it will be a surprise if Australia does not bow to local conditions and play more slow men this tour.