Stats show Labuschagne a rare fit at No.3
Marnus Labuschagne is set to become Australia's least-credentialed rookie first drop of the 21st century, after being named to bat at No.3 in Tim Paine's side for the fourth Test against India at the SCG.
A spot traditionally reserved for the best batsman in each Test team, Labuschagne's first-class average of 33.17 is the lowest of any player picked for the first time to bat at No.3 this century.
In total 15 players have been selected in the position since 2000 , dating back to Justin Langer who eventually lost the spot to Ricky Ponting in the following year's Ashes series.
Others have also filled in for the role, but only as a nightwatchman or for a single innings at a time through injury.
Ponting, Steve Smith, Shane Watson and Usman Khawaja have mostly held the spot with command, but Labuschagne's selection highlights an Australian side still trying to find their way without David Warner and Smith.
The Queenslander scored just 81 runs in his maiden two Tests batting in the middle order last year against Pakistan at 20.25, and had more success with the ball – taking seven wickets with his leg spin on the tour of the UAE.
It was partly for that reason he was picked in Australia's side for the SCG Test, with selectors preferring another bowling option on a wicket that is traditionally known for turning.
"We know how good a cricketer he is, he's really skilled in all facets of the game," Paine said on match-eve on Wednesday.
"We saw in the UAE his leg spin's improved out of sight, and you're almost leaning towards him at Test level now as a bit of an all-round option, which is a really good package for us."
Khawaja was moved to opener to replace Aaron Finch as part of the shake up, while Peter Handscomb was also named at No.6 in place of Mitch Marsh at the SCG.
In fairness, Labuschagne has experience batting at first drop for Queensland in his first-class career but his average of 33.17 is still lower than Shaun Marsh, Robert Quiney and Alex Doolan who averaged 37 when brought into the Test side at No.3 in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
It's also a far cry from the figures of his predecessor Khawaja, who was averaging 51.7 in first-class cricket when brought in to make his debut for Australia at No.3 in 2011.